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Western Sorcery in RQ:G


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Just because something is useful doesn't mean it'll be widely known. Sorcerous schools are just as bogged down in tradition and secrecy as everyone else. Arkat was famous for mixing magic with heroquesting and just jumping between religions, so it makes sense that his schools would have spells unique to them that let them deal with other magics.

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9 hours ago, kr0p0s said:

This is a good summary, but I also think that Jeff mentioned that only spirit magic was generally available to the Hrolari and Dronar. This implies that their interaction with their deities were limited. Maybe initiation to the cults of the Burtae is seen as a step too far away from Malkionism. There is a sorcery spell introduced in Smoking Ruins call See Rune Magic. You could imagine some inquisitorial body, in more orthodox regions, dedicated to checking up on the lower castes to purge unorthodox rune powers.

The Talar worship of powerful ancestors may alow them to bypass these restrictions and obtain rune magic?

I doubt that there's any sort of inquisition or restriction on Rune magic, it's just that the West is one of those regions where most of the population is lay members, who see no reason to engage in the responsibilities and politics of initiating into the deeper mysteries (and thus obtaining Rune magic). At most, a community will probably have one Rune priest for each temple, with maybe a handful of initiates to help them. No need for any sort of check by the Zzaburi.

RQG does make initiation seem like the norm, but full initiation really is a serious step in a person's life that most average humans won't bother taking regardless of where they live (though Heortlings do have an abnormal amount). All our heroes just happen to be initiated because a) well, we're heroes, and b) players want big magic. RQG also neatly sweeps most of the responsibilities and restrictions of initiation under the rug, so we neither have to deal with them nor really understand them, which I do feel is a bit of a loss. I hope the cults book emphasizes the social aspects of initiation more, so it's not just viewed as a completely free source of a power.

Edited by Richard S.
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11 minutes ago, Godlearner said:

I see it the other way. Most humans become initiates during the coming of age ceremony, except in the West.

Adulthood initiation is a different thing from initiating to a god. The initiation you go through when passing into adulthood is best thought of as "pantheon initiation", after which you are now a lay member of the cultural god(s). If you want to go further, you can dedicate yourself to an individual god, but it comes with much more responsibility (in heroquest, it was abstracted as a 30% time commitment as opposed to the 10% time commitment of a lay member). Cult Initiation is basically the first step into the priesthood - you've become a first-level Cleric, if I can pull in a D&D analogy.

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1 hour ago, kr0p0s said:

It may be used by zzaburi tasked with monitoring and chastising the lower castes or interacting with heathens?

Western cultures have a long history of turning a blind eye to what the lower castes do, as long as they're not breaking any taboos and fulfilling their duties. 

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Adulthood initiation is a different thing from initiating to a god. The initiation you go through when passing into adulthood is best thought of as "pantheon initiation", after which you are now a lay member of the cultural god(s). If you want to go further, you can dedicate yourself to an individual god, but it comes with much more responsibility (in heroquest, it was abstracted as a 30% time commitment as opposed to the 10% time commitment of a lay member).

 Yes, I am well aware of the meaning. I do not agree with the "first step into the priesthood" idea. It can be the first step, but it does not have to.

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11 hours ago, kr0p0s said:

 However it is not introduced as such in the Smoking Ruins supplement, and is of  such utility that you would imagine that it may be in use in Malkioni cultures .  It may be used by zzaburi tasked with monitoring and chastising the lower castes or interacting with heathens?

If it wasn't sect-exclusive then it would be in the general sorcery rules methinks.  I doubt that Rokari and other people actually know the spell because the Arkati are infamous for worshipping the Gods in place of Henosis with the Invisible God that other Malkioni do.  As such it reflects their special insight into the relationship between man and the gods.  They are also a school of illumination and the Black Arkati do not teach sorcery to non-illuminates.

So IMO unless a Rokari Horal casts a  known rune spell in font of a Zzaburi or a Talar or a snitch, he's probably safe 

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So the rule about creating new sorcery spells on p390 in RQ:G is a very rarely used mechanic.  See Rune Magic is not that big a step from Identify Spell. It would use the same runes and technique even. Given its utility to Rokari social order would no one have devised such a spell from investigation of the Abiding Book or a similar grimoire. 

I suppose one could argue that it was a spell know during the time of the Godlearners, that knowledge of it has been lost, and that the devising of new spells since the disasterously experimental times of the Middle Sea Empire is prohibited? At least in the Rokari culture.

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10 hours ago, Frp said:

Western cultures have a long history of turning a blind eye to what the lower castes do, as long as they're not breaking any taboos and fulfilling their duties. 

Rokari society is the most conservative of the Malkioni. Allowing the Dronar caste to initiate into the cults of petty gods is the sort of thing that the henotheists of Ralios allow. And they have drifted far from the ideals of Malkion. They are no better than heathens!

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2 minutes ago, kr0p0s said:

So the rule about creating new sorcery spells on p390 in RQ:G is a very rarely used mechanic.  See Rune Magic is not that big a step from Identify Spell. It would use the same runes and technique even. Given its utility to Rokari social order would no one have devised such a spell from investigation of the Abiding Book or a similar grimoire. 

Really this discussion would be better off in the glorantha group.  Identify only works on Active Magics.  See Rune Magic is about looking into the type of Rune Magic a person has, i.e. the contents of his divine bank account so-to-speak stored with some distant god on the other side.  So what may look like to you to be a small step is actually quite a massive one.. Arguments based on utility are neither here or there.

 

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On 2/25/2021 at 11:25 AM, kr0p0s said:

Could anyone summarise the current understanding of how Western Sorcery fits into the current RQ universe. I seem to remember some discussion about only the Wizard caste actually using sorcery. The other castes were able to use spirit magic and somehow have access to rune magic. I know someone is going to say wait for the Sorcery/Malkion supplement. I'm just after some general hints as to the direction of travel. Is it towards the henotheism of Ralios? Are the lower castes, in their ignorance, allowed to indulge in spirit or cult worship. Otherwise how do they acquire spirit and rune magic?

 

Zzaburi: Zzaburi are specialists in sorcery. They exist to study and practice sorcery for the benefit of the rest of Malkioni society. Sorcery requires many years of dedicated study and specialization, and so Malkioni society is organized into castes so that a specialist caste of sorcerers can exist. Primarily through the skill of the zzaburi, the Malkioni were able to survive the Greater Darkness. 

The zzaburi are charged with the responsibility of mastering sorcery and using it for the good of the other castes. They support the talar leaders in their commands; cast magic on the horali warriors to enable them to defeat any foe; and help the dronar workers obtain bountiful harvest and create tools. 

Talars: The Talar caste has the responsibility of keeping society well-ordered and prosperous. This caste includes many types of leaders, from military commanders, merchants and judges, to landholders and court official. The caste handles trade, administers justice, controls exports and imports of goods and services, and handles all contacts with non-Malkioni. 

The talars are directly descended from the first-born son of Malkion, They venerate their ancestors – kings, heroes, and even gods – as a means of connection to the supreme power of the Invisible God. The earliest ancestors were the children of gods, and can intercede with the Elemental gods and the Powers on behalf of their descendants. As a result, Talars must carefully learn their lineage, and act as links between past generations of leaders and the present time.

Upon death, the remains of a talar are buried beneath the earth. Mounds, shrines, or other structures are typically built atop the grave. Cults to specific ancestors are common among their descendants. In the First Age, the royal burial mounds of the Seshnegi Serpent Kings were sacred complexes and the center of much religious activity. Other such cults, such as those of Xemela, Hrestol, Gerlant, and Talor, are now worshiped by members of all Malkioni castes.   

Horali: Horal was the third son of Malkion. Where his older brothers were given the powers of command and mastery over magic, Horal learned weapon mastery from five terrible gods - Humakt, Yelmalio, Zorak Zoran, Babeester Gor, and Wachaza - and then proved his skill to Kargan Tor. Humakt gave him the Unbreakable Sword and Horal fought for his brothers in many wars. In the stratified Brithini society, the horali served as soldiers who conquered new territories and defended the homeland from foreign aggressors. 

Horali exist to fight and the warrior caste prides itself in proficiency with weapons and skill in battle. All horali are soldiers, subject to the commands of the talars. The holari are tasked with the defense of the Malkioni, prosecution of wars, and enforcement of the will of the talars. 

In many areas, the horali are often of non-Malkioni origin. During periods of expansion, entire tribal warbands of Orlanthi or Hsunchen origin were “adopted” into Malkioni society as horali. Some continue to worship their ancestral war cults. Many scholars believe that is the origin of the Seshnelan Martial Beasts, and Humakt and Wachaza were both popular cults with the Second Age armies of the Middle Sea Empire. 

Dronari: Dronar was the last son of Malkion, born of Britha, and charged with his father to support the other brothers unquestioningly. The dronari were told that in return the other brothers would shelter and protect them. The dronari formed the largest caste, composed of farmers, herders, craftsmen, hunters, smiths, and all manners of those who toil for their living. 

Many, perhaps most, dronari have non-Malkioni ancestry. In some lands conquered by the Middle Sea Empire, the native population were enrolled en masse as dronari.

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35 minutes ago, kr0p0s said:

Rokari society is the most conservative of the Malkioni. Allowing the Dronar caste to initiate into the cults of petty gods is the sort of thing that the henotheists of Ralios allow. And they have drifted far from the ideals of Malkion. They are no better than heathens!

Rokari tenets have one big bugbear - Hrestoli men-of-all and how they mess with the proper(ly submissive) society with their insight into what the Watchers do.

Hrestolism was a movement of participation in religious matters. In Jrustela, there appears to have been a popular movement of interacting with the philosophy of Malkionism, and apparently a rather wide-spread literacy and insight into the basic tenets of the religion. IMO a side effect of the path to the state of the Man-of-All which would accept trainees from every caste.

Rokarism seeks to undo many of the innovations brought by Hrestol and his disciples, and carried on by those God Learners who did not comply to the standards of the God Learner Rokar who had the audacity to use the Sharp Abiding Book - elsewhere described as the grimoire of the more destructive sect of God Learners - as the new holy scripture. Imagine a religion which has witnessed the magical writing of their holy book, and then some supposedly holy men editing that volume down to what they think is palatable. (And it is very hard not to compare this with other book religions and their editing and collating practices.)

Hrestoli believe in reincarnation, according to the Guide. Rokarism just offers Solace upon the disentegration of the Self after Death, as does the Brithini creed.

I am curious how this works out when all the castes except for the sorcerers practice some form of religion offering a notion of an afterlife. It may be the definition of the Self by the Malkioni which differs from the Theyalan concept of the soul(s). If Malkioni identity is focussed on the intellect and memories, then maybe those are lost upon death. Or at least upon rebirth.

But then the Daka Fal ancestor worship allows descendants to exchange knowledge (or "possession of spirit magic" with their ancestors, and probably a (limited?) set of memories, too.

 

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

Zzaburi: Zzaburi are specialists in sorcery. They exist to study and practice sorcery for the benefit of the rest of Malkioni society. Sorcery requires many years of dedicated study and specialization, and so Malkioni society is organized into castes so that a specialist caste of sorcerers can exist. Primarily through the skill of the zzaburi, the Malkioni were able to survive the Greater Darkness. 

The zzaburi are charged with the responsibility of mastering sorcery and using it for the good of the other castes. They support the talar leaders in their commands; cast magic on the horali warriors to enable them to defeat any foe; and help the dronar workers obtain bountiful harvest and create tools. 

Talars: The Talar caste has the responsibility of keeping society well-ordered and prosperous. This caste includes many types of leaders, from military commanders, merchants and judges, to landholders and court official. The caste handles trade, administers justice, controls exports and imports of goods and services, and handles all contacts with non-Malkioni. 

The talars are directly descended from the first-born son of Malkion, They venerate their ancestors – kings, heroes, and even gods – as a means of connection to the supreme power of the Invisible God. The earliest ancestors were the children of gods, and can intercede with the Elemental gods and the Powers on behalf of their descendants. As a result, Talars must carefully learn their lineage, and act as links between past generations of leaders and the present time.

Upon death, the remains of a talar are buried beneath the earth. Mounds, shrines, or other structures are typically built atop the grave. Cults to specific ancestors are common among their descendants. In the First Age, the royal burial mounds of the Seshnegi Serpent Kings were sacred complexes and the center of much religious activity. Other such cults, such as those of Xemela, Hrestol, Gerlant, and Talor, are now worshiped by members of all Malkioni castes.   

Horali: Horal was the third son of Malkion. Where his older brothers were given the powers of command and mastery over magic, Horal learned weapon mastery from five terrible gods - Humakt, Yelmalio, Zorak Zoran, Babeester Gor, and Wachaza - and then proved his skill to Kargan Tor. Humakt gave him the Unbreakable Sword and Horal fought for his brothers in many wars. In the stratified Brithini society, the horali served as soldiers who conquered new territories and defended the homeland from foreign aggressors. 

Horali exist to fight and the warrior caste prides itself in proficiency with weapons and skill in battle. All horali are soldiers, subject to the commands of the talars. The holari are tasked with the defense of the Malkioni, prosecution of wars, and enforcement of the will of the talars. 

In many areas, the horali are often of non-Malkioni origin. During periods of expansion, entire tribal warbands of Orlanthi or Hsunchen origin were “adopted” into Malkioni society as horali. Some continue to worship their ancestral war cults. Many scholars believe that is the origin of the Seshnelan Martial Beasts, and Humakt and Wachaza were both popular cults with the Second Age armies of the Middle Sea Empire. 

Dronari: Dronar was the last son of Malkion, born of Britha, and charged with his father to support the other brothers unquestioningly. The dronari were told that in return the other brothers would shelter and protect them. The dronari formed the largest caste, composed of farmers, herders, craftsmen, hunters, smiths, and all manners of those who toil for their living. 

Many, perhaps most, dronari have non-Malkioni ancestry. In some lands conquered by the Middle Sea Empire, the native population were enrolled en masse as dronari.

Wow. This is great! 

How far are the Hrolari allowed to devote themselves to the war orientated gods? Just to the point of lay membership so that they can access spirit magic? And if they go further and can initiate, can they acquire rune magic? Are priests, rune Lords and temple organisation permitted to service the hrolari?

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5 hours ago, kr0p0s said:

So the rule about creating new sorcery spells on p390 in RQ:G is a very rarely used mechanic.  See Rune Magic is not that big a step from Identify Spell. It would use the same runes and technique even. Given its utility to Rokari social order would no one have devised such a spell from investigation of the Abiding Book or a similar grimoire. 

I suppose one could argue that it was a spell know during the time of the Godlearners, that knowledge of it has been lost, and that the devising of new spells since the disasterously experimental times of the Middle Sea Empire is prohibited? At least in the Rokari culture.

The Rokari social order is in no way threatened by Rune magic, they have no need for a spell to see and identify Rune magic. The wizards don't care much about what the lower castes do as long as they follow their caste laws and sacrifice mp to the invisible god.

The New Hrestoli society in Loskalm is arguably more restrictive of Rune magic than anything the Rokari of Seshnela do, since in their "perfect logical society" worship of the gods is seen as beneath everyone (though ancestor worship is still cool with them). I doubt they have an inquisition or anything though, it's just a cultural bias against cults.

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2 hours ago, kr0p0s said:

Wow. This is great! 

How far are the Hrolari allowed to devote themselves to the war orientated gods? Just to the point of lay membership so that they can access spirit magic? And if they go further and can initiate, can they acquire rune magic? Are priests, rune Lords and temple organisation permitted to service the hrolari?

Holar provides no Rune spells, although Horali may learn spirit magic from their regiments or war societies. However, horali may join hero cults, war society cults, and even the cults of certain martial deities such as Humakt. These cults are often worshiped as associated cults for a given horali regiment.

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So Horali are organised in terms of regiments or war societies. These are similar to the Orlanthi war societies you introduced in the Thanes thread? But less free companies or warbands and more organised guilds sworn to hereditary Talar leaders. Loosely sort of like the Togukawa shogunate period?

Is Horal an Ascended Master or just an exemplar of the way a warrior fits into Malkioni society?

How do Horali learn spirit magic from their regiment or war society? Currently the rules say that you can only learn spirit magic from a rune cult or shaman. Are there ancestor worship shaman or rune priests of the war gods embedded within these societies or is there some other mechanic?

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On 3/1/2021 at 1:28 PM, kr0p0s said:

Is Horal an Ascended Master or just an exemplar of the way a warrior fits into Malkioni society?

IMG very few people (if any) cultivate direct contacts with Horal these days. Some smart people say he's dead. I suspect "Horal Stories" (unlike "Dromal Stories" and the sagas of the children of Talar) are not commonly transmitted even in oral channels so his exploits aren't really conducive to magic. His history is not taught.

Most everyday horalites don't fret about it and simply consider the caste founder as a kind of abstract exemplar. Their anecdotes and jokes are full of references to other figures. But there's a real opportunity here for people who want to read between the lines.

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5 hours ago, scott-martin said:

IMG very few people (if any) cultivate direct contacts with Horal these days. Some smart people say he's dead. I suspect "Horal Stories" (unlike "Dromal Stories" and the sagas of the children of Talar) are not commonly transmitted even in oral channels so his exploits aren't really conducive to magic. His history is not taught.

Most everyday horalites don't fret about it and simply consider the caste founder as a kind of abstract exemplar. Their anecdotes and jokes are full of references to other figures. But there's a real opportunity here for people who want to read between the lines.

There are some apocryphal mentions of discord between Zzabur and (a) Horal, and Menena stepping in to restore peace?

The Brithini don't really recognize ascended masters. Perhaps they regard the whole concept as some form of necromancy.

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8 hours ago, Joerg said:

There are some apocryphal mentions of discord between Zzabur and (a) Horal, and Menena stepping in to restore peace?

Definitely. But I suspect modern zzaburists avoid the subject, opting instead to focus on training young horalites to conform to the abstract traits large-scale sorcery can handle efficiently.

Tales of caste confusion and caste discord (and non-standard castes) are probably the preserve of radical hrestolists. Hearing these stories can drive well trained horalites into confusion, rage, despair and otherwise render them useless and even dangerous to the sorcerous elite. I love them.

What modern "strict observance" horalites (and dronars) probably get is a combination of received education from the sorcerers and caste-specific lore from caste elders. People are unlikely to get much sense from the former channel of the internal states required to "perform" or interact with the caste founders individual-to-individual. The intercessors are afraid of independent horal so keep it simple and sanitized. In their view, the working castes are just jobs for people to do, without any form of spiritual consolation. 

But that's depressing to play so IMG caste elders tell the trainees and apprentices something slightly different when the intercessor has gone on to the next village. This is where the abstract caste code can become more personalized and elements of potentially useful identification seep back in. This was a person. He was your ancestor. Learn from the way he did it and apply those lessons to your life. Under the right conditions this becomes something like an ascended master figure and your relationship gives you a sense of self the zzaburists don't really understand or know how to deal with.

This is how Arkat happened. It used to happen all the time back on the island but they don't like to talk about that. And then there are women.

8 hours ago, Joerg said:

The Brithini don't really recognize ascended masters. Perhaps they regard the whole concept as some form of necromancy.

I imagine this is much of what they then lump in with the larger category of demonology.  If the dead are unreachable, who or what does ancestor worship or ascended master veneration contact? Clearly nothing they care to contemplate. 

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On 3/1/2021 at 10:28 AM, kr0p0s said:

Is Horal an Ascended Master or just an exemplar of the way a warrior fits into Malkioni society?

Horal (and Talar and Dronar) might not be dead. 

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9 hours ago, Frp said:

Horal (and Talar and Dronar) might not be dead. 

Do they dwell still in Brithos? That would explain why they offer no magic. Is this widely understood in Western society?

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10 hours ago, Frp said:

Horal (and Talar and Dronar) might not be dead. 

There are stories about how Talar and his heir Hoalar (twin brother of Froalar) were killed by the Vadeli, probably in the Double Belligerent Assault.

Hoalar's son Gresat inherited kingship, and held it at the dawn, according to the unpublished Hrestol's Saga.

Horal himself (named Holar Swordbearer in that manuscript) was not present in the high council of Brithos, either, but his son wielded is sword. That makes me assume that Holar wasn't among the living any more, either. Also lost seem to be Menena (wife of a Horal) and Talar's wife Eule. No mention of Dronar or Dromal, but Zzabur appears to be the only surviving son of the Founder after the Dawn. Several of the demised ancestors can be reached through the agency of Yingar the Messenger or direct ancestor worship in Hrestol's Saga. Menena is summoned (and presumably incarnated in a descendant) in that story, ending a civil war on Brithos.

 

"Hoalar" is of course another spelling dangerously close to Holar or Horal... keeping those Malkioni founders' names apart can be difficult.

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