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Heralds and Battle in Glorantha


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Moving a specific question from the RQ forum over here because it's more 'Gloranthan cultural' than RQ rules.

Question for the Collective Brain Jar: Are Issaries heralds considered inviolate in Gloranthan warfare?

Obviously some opponents wouldn't observe such niceties, such as broo, tusk riders, trolls, etc, but do 'civilized' opponents observe the neutrality of the herald?

Understand, I'm not speaking of an Issaries trader here, but specifically in the Issaries the Messenger /Herald /Neutral Party role.

I can legitimately imagine two clans going at it with two unarmed Heralds standing on top a hill nearby mutually observing the battle or exchanging messages for their principals.

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The messenger as the carrier of tactical intelligence for a force leader probably is a valid target. The emissary should be inviolate if that individual (or group) obeys the rules of the faction they are sent towards. (Except for factions which receive such emissaries and then complete their voluntary sacrifice by expediting them towards their deity. Such as Delecti, the Tusk Riders, the Cannibal Cult, and possibly a few others.)

I think that our real world history had enough customs like this - emissaries volunteering to self destruct in delivering a message. Movements that honor and preach martyrdom, or that promise some form of ascension from such community service.

Issaries being the god of all forms of communication, this might well be covered by his cult.

(Being the god of equal exchange might even make Issaries eligible as an assassin using mutual destruction. Much like Hahlgrim did using Ironbreaker.)

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11 hours ago, svensson said:

Are Issaries heralds considered inviolate in Gloranthan warfare?

Generally, yes, as they are strictly non-combatant.

However, if they start becoming involved, for example by relaying messages, then they are non non-combatants and are fair game.

11 hours ago, svensson said:

I can legitimately imagine two clans going at it with two unarmed Heralds standing on top a hill nearby mutually observing the battle or exchanging messages for their principals.

Standing and observing is fine. 

Passing messages to outsiders is fine.

Assisting in the battle isn't.

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

I think that our real world history had enough customs like this - emissaries volunteering to self destruct in delivering a message. Movements that honor and preach martyrdom, or that promise some form of ascension from such community service.

The phrase "Don't shoot the messenger" was not just invented. Messengers had a good chance of being killed for their message in the past.

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2 hours ago, soltakss said:

The phrase "Don't shoot the messenger" was not just invented. Messengers had a good chance of being killed for their message in the past.

Doesn't that  phrase mainly refer to friendly fire, i.e. the recipient of the message letting off steam on one of their own underlings (in typical Hollywood villain manner)?

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15 hours ago, svensson said:

Obviously some opponents wouldn't observe such niceties, such as...trolls,

Argan Argar and Issaries are great friends and business partners in the myths.  A Zorak Zoran warband might not care, but more disciplined troll forces with higher proportions of Argan Argar speartrolls, like Shadow Plateau forces, would actually be quite likely to respect heralds carrying the Harmony or Communication runes. such heralds do need to make sure that their peace-signs are legible to Darksense though, to avoid any misinterpretations of intent.

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In another thread we got to talking about Ernalda priestesses acting as healers in open battle and asked 'are they inviolate [not the spell] when doing so'.

This brings up insignia for the role a given cultist is acting upon... Ernalda and Uleria priestesses wearing a white sash and going unarmed when acting as Healers for example. So it would seem to me that a given Issaries cultist would have simple, easy to identify insignia for the role they're occupying in a given situation... trader, emissary [delivering messages or being a negotiator], and herald [being a neutral observer or party or a diplomat]. My simple solution would look like this:

Quarterstaff when acting as a trader [the walking stick]

A baton when acting as an emissary [the tally stick or rune stick of messages]

And bare handed and unarmed when acting as a herald.

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from my perspective :

Chalana cultists cannot be touched, as they heal everyone

That is not the case of others healers: ernaldan healers would heal their clan for example, they are not neutral.

Then everything depends on the two factions:

If they share some morale values, like honor (don't kill the no fighting people, keep them prisonner, like ernaldan "target", good for ransom business), or guest respect (a herald may have done what is expected to be a "guest")   that could be not too dangerous.

If they don't share the same "code", then...

 

But a very important point : people who had the task of Herald could be protected as herald but, once on the battle field, if they fight, they are no more herald, just fighters.

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9 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

But a very important point : people who had the task of Herald could be protected as herald but, once on the battle field, if they fight, they are no more herald, just fighters.

I wholly agree with that.

Non-combatant status entirely depends on acting like a non-combatant.

But certain generally understood symbols of a cultist's role help everyone understand their intent. Since several cults have more than one role they play in society, it's fitting that they have openly visible symbols of which role they're undertaking. That's why I suggested that healers, no matter what cult they belong to, are recognized by being unarmed and wearing a white sash, or the different symbols for an Issaries worshiper's different tasks.

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20 hours ago, Joerg said:
23 hours ago, soltakss said:

The phrase "Don't shoot the messenger" was not just invented. Messengers had a good chance of being killed for their message in the past.

Doesn't that  phrase mainly refer to friendly fire, i.e. the recipient of the message letting off steam on one of their own underlings (in typical Hollywood villain manner)?

I am not sure. I always took it to mean that ancient kings used to kill messengers who brought them messages from rival kings. I read that kings often returned the heads of envoys as the answer to the message that was delivered.

 

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, soltakss said:

I am not sure. I always took it to mean that ancient kings used to kill messengers who brought them messages from rival kings. I read that kings often returned the heads of envoys as the answer to the message that was delivered.

 

Again, I think we're back to the role the character is playing in the conflict.

A diplomatic emissary is not supposed to be slain for having the unmitigated gall to deliver bad news. It has been known to happen on occasion, which is usually responded to by the harshest punishments available.... In an RQ Orthanthi sense, a clan chief who murdered an Issaries herald and was later caught by the offended party could expect to be slain out of hand at the very least. A worse fate would be to be impaled on a scorn post and have his soul imprisoned in the post for all time.

And if you don't think a Heortling clan would get that petty, you're not reading the same sources I am.

But a character of any cult who was caught spying, well, that's a different matter. Only membership in Chalana Arroy would save them from some very dire consequences.

And if you think that Heortlings are brutal, consider what would happen to you if you were caught by Lunar Empire for these offenses! Consider the fate of Hofstaring Tree-Leaper and other rebels who had their souls trapped or fed to the Bat!

Edited by svensson
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2 minutes ago, soltakss said:

I am not sure. I always took it to mean that ancient kings used to kill messengers who brought them messages from rival kings. I read that kings often returned the heads of envoys as the answer to the message that was delivered.

 

I read the same or maybe.. "I read often that kings returned the heads of envoys as the answer to the message that was delivered"

 

My theory (personal, I have no academic knowledge about this) is what is noticed is often what is shocking. So we probably have more reports of bad acts than what happend in reality (in %).

I am pretty sure that if heralds were "always" killed :

1) peace would have never occured, except by the full destruction of the "other" (how can you negotiate if you kill the negotiator before he gives the answer ?)

2) nobility would have disappeared very quickly (you don't send a peon for such a mission, except if you want to insult the other, but it is no more negotiation)

 

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10 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I am pretty sure that if heralds were "always" killed :

Sometimes. Messengers were sometimes, even perhaps rarely, killed. But it happened in real life.

 

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4 hours ago, soltakss said:

Sometimes. Messengers were sometimes, even perhaps rarely, killed. But it happened in real life.

 

When Kublai Khakhan sent emissaries to Japan to require their submission to the Mongol /Chinese Yuan dynasty, the Hojo Shogun sent the emissaries back to China in several boxes each. This, of course, led to two Mongol attempts to invade Japan.

Yeah, bro was mad....

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5 minutes ago, svensson said:

When Kublai Khakhan sent emissaries to Japan to require their submission to the Mongol /Chinese Yuan dynasty, the Hojo Shogun sent the emissaries back to China in several boxes each. This, of course, led to two Mongol attempts to invade Japan.

Yeah, bro was mad....

Similarly, at least according to almost contemprary historians, the Celts who had invaded the Etruscan lands of northern Italy turned their attention and ire on Rome because Roman emissaries took up weapons against them, leading to the Roman "Vae Victis" trauma.

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11 hours ago, soltakss said:

Sometimes. Messengers were sometimes, even perhaps rarely, killed. But it happened in real life.

 

One should also consider the heralds often have to do their duties with peoples that do not share their values or language.  The Spartans threw two Persian emissaries down a well (ie those wierd looking holes in the 300) although the killers later recognized it was a crime.  

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59 minutes ago, metcalph said:

One should also consider the heralds often have to do their duties with peoples that do not share their values or language.  The Spartans threw two Persian emissaries down a well (ie those wierd looking holes in the 300) although the killers later recognized it was a crime.  

The Athenians put Darius' emissaries (or ambassadors) on trial and executed them by throwing them in a pit. In Sparta the emissaries where just thrown into a well. However, to appease Darius, the Spartans subsequently sent two volunteers to Susa for execution as an atonement for the death of the ambassadors. 

In Greece, the Heralds all claimed descent from Hermes through his son, Keryx. They carried a staff of olive or laurel wood surrounded by two snakes (or with wool as messengers of peace); their persons were inviolable; and they formed a kind of priesthood or corporation. In the Homeric age, they summoned the assemblies of the people, at which they preserved order and silence; proclaimed war; arranged the cessation of hostilities and the conclusion of peace; and assisted at public sacrifices and banquets.

Pollux in his Onomasticon distinguishes four classes of heralds: (1) the sacred heralds at the Eleusinian mysteries; (2) the heralds at the public games, who announced the names of the competitors and victors; (3) those who superintended the arrangements of festal processions; (4) those who proclaimed goods for sale in the market (for which purpose they mounted a stone), and gave notice of lost children and runaway slaves.

other writers add other occupations for heralds:

(5) the heralds of the boule and demos, who summoned the members of the council and ecclesia, recited the solemn formula of prayer before the opening of the meeting, called upon the orators to speak, counted the votes and announced the results; (6) the heralds of the law courts, who gave notice of the time of trials and summoned the parties.

The heralds received payment from the state and free meals together with the officials to whom they were attached.

In early republican Rome, Livy reports a special class of Heralds called Fetiales, drawn from the important families, who formed a 'Priestly' College of 15-20 members and held office for life. Their duties were to demand redress for insult or injury to the State, to declare war (unless satisfaction was received within a certain number of days) and negotiate peace.

The process was that 2-4 Fetiales travelled to the border of the offending enemy territory and requested satisfaction. If they did not get an answer within 30 days they returned to Rome and reported the outcome. If war was subsequently decided upon, the same delegation would travel back to the border and hurl a bloody and charred javelin across the border in the presence of three witnesses which was tantamount to declaring war.

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Just now, Nozbat said:

hurling a bloody and charred javelin across the border in the presence of three witnesses

I know several PCs who would declare that this is a wanton misuse and waste of expensive resources at 35L a go and demand that the javelin was retrieved to be repurposed and given a false end-user certificate to be sold on... but that's another story

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Nozbat said:

I know several PCs who would declare that this is a wanton misuse and waste of expensive resources at 35L a go and demand that the javelin was retrieved to be repurposed and given a false end-user certificate to be sold on... but that's another story

Or at least be greedy enough to go looking for the damned thing to scavenge the bronze head off it....

I've literally had a Balazaring hunter PC chase a puma to get his knapped flint javelin head back, so...

Edited by svensson
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4 hours ago, Nozbat said:

The process was that 2-4 Fetiales travelled to the border of the offending enemy territory and requested satisfaction. If they did not get an answer within 30 days they returned to Rome and reported the outcome. If war was subsequently decided upon, the same delegation would travel back to the border and hurl a bloody and charred javelin across the border in the presence of three witnesses which was tantamount to declaring war.

I recall they refined it a bit later on.  Instead of travelling to the border, they would designated some plot of land outside the city boundaries to be enemy territory and so chucked their spear on that instead.  

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6 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

The price of Javelins just went up due to whining!

This is just more profit for the illegal arms factory in the underground bunker beneath the Women's Bathhouse ... so we're going to forgot those plans with Beetles, Psychoactive mushrooms or Improving the breeding options for Trolls and concentrate on more production of high end javelins. Who needs to trade trinkets now?

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23 hours ago, Nozbat said:

The process was that 2-4 Fetiales travelled to the border of the offending enemy territory and requested satisfaction. If they did not get an answer within 30 days they returned to Rome and reported the outcome. If war was subsequently decided upon, the same delegation would travel back to the border and hurl a bloody and charred javelin across the border in the presence of three witnesses which was tantamount to declaring war.

Significantly more sporting than how the Castilians went about it in the New World.

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One of the first things which happens when war threatens is countries withdraw their ambassadors, because being a foreign diplomat becomes a very high risk job when the shooting starts. Usually meetings if any happen in a neutral third country, arranged by the diplomats of that neutral country.

There are plenty of cases of diplomats being murdered, especially when the two parties didn't share the same tradition. 

Lunar diplomats trying to negotiate with light bringers, well they're all chaos fiends aren't they? You god might get angry if you send them home in one piece.

Edited by EricW
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19 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Significantly more sporting than how the Castilians went about it in the New World.

Definitely true...

but even for the Romans, I also have an image of several old men standing on the most de-populated and out of the way part of the border declaring war to some surprised sheep and goats 

 

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