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Why don't publish Arkat's Saga as part of the Stafford Library?


Thoror

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1 minute ago, Thoror said:

one of the greatest creative minds of his time and the only creator (except maybe Tolkien) of constructed mythologies whose work has come close to capturing the complexity, ambiguity and overall-richness of real-world mythologies.

Love it.  That gives us something to work toward! It took the Aleister Crowley people a good 65 years after his death to get the academy to start taking him seriously as a cultural figure. Even JRRT is only coming into his real influence now, eight decades out. We can all lend a hand, edit an issue of Mythlore or whatever. It's too big for most of us to do on our own. That's a good enough use of time.

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1 hour ago, Thoror said:

... one of the greatest creative minds of his time and the only creator (except maybe Tolkien) of constructed mythologies whose work has come close to capturing the complexity, ambiguity and overall-richness of real-world mythologies ...

I would add M.A.R.Barker & his Tekumel to that list.
 

In fact, I'd put Stafford & Barker substantively above Tolkien on the constructed-mythologies front; Stafford ahead in 1st, as a myth-and-culture-first creator (Barker, like Tolkien, had a lot of linguistic drive in his creative world (and thus, Tekumel is much more linguistically-rich than Glorantha)).

Tolkien really had a unitary (not messy, with multiple cultures' conflicting myth-cycles) mythology (and a very Chrstian-analogue one).  Mordor fundamentally agreed with Gondor (and with the Elves, and the Dwarves) as to the barebones "historical" facts of the events; they only disagreed as to the "meaning" (if any) and the interpretations of said events.

 

Edited by g33k
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45 minutes ago, g33k said:

Tolkien really had a unitary (not messy, with multiple cultures' conflicting myth-cycles) mythology (and a very Chrstian-analogue one).  Mordor fundamentally agreed with Gondor (and with the Elves, and the Dwarves) as to the barebones "historical" facts of the events; they only disagreed as to the "meaning" (if any) and the interpretations of said events.

 

Yeah, precisely why I said "maybe".

I had thought about Tekumel, but regrettably I don't know it well enough.

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It is surprisingly difficult to write Gloranthan fiction in a straightforward modernist mode. I made one attempt at doing so that twisted into a similar kind of postmodernist mask over the material as the Blue Arkat fragment, and another attempt that steadfastly refused to stay on the conventional lozenge. So the struggle is certainly real when it comes to presenting these ancient sources/core texts. 

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10 hours ago, Thoror said:

That would be awesome, but it doesn't seem likely. Maybe I'm wrong (I wish to be wrong), but I don't see the intelligentsia coming to consider Greg what he really was: one of the greatest creative minds of his time and the only creator (except maybe Tolkien) of constructed mythologies whose work has come close to capturing the complexity, ambiguity and overall-richness of real-world mythologies.

But hey, there have been others Vindicated by History. Only time will tell.

Remember that the intelligentsias' reaction to Tolkien was "Not another fucking elf. ..." and that was his friend. JRR is now a serious branch of literary scholarship. 
Now that postmodernism has openned the way for our little hobby to be considered as the serious collective creativity it is, I can see this happenning.

4 hours ago, Eff said:

It is surprisingly difficult to write Gloranthan fiction in a straightforward modernist mode.

Because it proceeds from a postmodernist premise. YGWV pretty much encapsulates postmodernism. Greg, Barker, and to a lesser extent Gygax, and their successors and collaborators have produced a genre that requires co-creation and multiple viewpoints on the world. The first two mentioned are highest up my list due to the coherence of their worlds. 

There's little point in comparing "their" creations to Tolkien. They inhabit different genres and philosophical approaches. 

Edited by Rob Darvall
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21 hours ago, Thoror said:

That would be awesome, but it doesn't seem likely. Maybe I'm wrong (I wish to be wrong), but I don't see the intelligentsia coming to consider Greg what he really was: one of the greatest creative minds of his time and the only creator (except maybe Tolkien) of constructed mythologies whose work has come close to capturing the complexity, ambiguity and overall-richness of real-world mythologies.

I would argue Lovecraft here as well.

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19 hours ago, g33k said:

Tolkien really had a unitary (not messy, with multiple cultures' conflicting myth-cycles) mythology (and a very Chrstian-analogue one).  Mordor fundamentally agreed with Gondor (and with the Elves, and the Dwarves) as to the barebones "historical" facts of the events; they only disagreed as to the "meaning" (if any) and the interpretations of said events.

Interestingly, Tolkien looks less unitary the more of his work-in-progress stuff you read. What comes down to us is a bunch of often contradictory material, a corpus that shifts over time and where attempting to reconstruct the "real" Middle-Earth becomes a lot like reconstructing "real" ancient history out of conflicting, fragmentary sources.

I don't know the state of Arkat's Saga, but is it significantly more unfinished and fragmentary than the Tolkien texts and fragments you get in History of Middle-Earth?

Edited by Akhôrahil
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6 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Interestingly, Tolkien looks less unitary the more of his work-in-progress stuff you read. What comes down to us is a bunch of often contradictory material, a corpus that shifts over time and where attempting to reconstruct the "real" Middle-Earth becomes a lot like reconstructing "real" ancient history out of conflicting, fragmentary sources.

 

It also has a meta-narrative of unreliable narrators. Keep in mind, canonically, The Lord of the Rings was translated from Westron by Tolkien, who based it on copies of the Red Book of Westmarch, made over thousands of years, originally written by Bilbo, and added to by Frodo and Sam, who based their Elder Days accounts on those of the Elves at Rivendell. 

There's stuff between the lines there, but it's obviously nowhere near as explicit as the tangled nature of Glorantha - where plural myths and narratives is, if anything, the central theme.

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3 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

It also has a meta-narrative of unreliable narrators. Keep in mind, canonically, The Lord of the Rings was translated from Westron by Tolkien, who based it on copies of the Red Book of Westmarch, made over thousands of years, originally written by Bilbo, and added to by Frodo and Sam, who based their Elder Days accounts on those of the Elves at Rivendell. 

There's stuff between the lines there, but it's obviously nowhere near as explicit as the tangled nature of Glorantha - where plural myths and narratives is, if anything, the central theme.

There’s that, but there’s not just that. The Silmarillion was edited to be coherent and non-contradictory, but in the process became oddly incomplete in places (the story of Eärendil is supposed to be one of the ”big three”, but was never written) as well as fairly narratively unsound. In later writings, Tolkien wanted to push that Middle-Earth was the pre-history of our world, and attempted to get rid of the flat world and the myths of the Sun and Moon. What’s the nature of orcs? We’re never given a proper explanation, because Tolkien couldn’t work it out for himself. The Athrabeth makes us question the story of elves and men we got elsewhere. Just how high-tech were the Númenoreans - did they really have flying ships and rocketry? And so on.

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I am not thrilled with the idea of published partially complete drafts of unpublished books. I think that only ends up making it far less likely that the books ever get completed. It also ends up with people speculating on the nature of the setting based on early drafts which Greg (or I) might cheerfully throw away, reject, or modify. 

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I think that partly the problem with large scale detailed backgrounds, Middle-Earth, Glorantha, Tekumel, probably Forgotten Realms too (?), is that the very plausibility that makes them seem so real is also a problem in that it can be a real Mirror of Illusion(*). When I first started with RQ I felt I couldn't really run Glorantha (I had RQ1/2 and Cults of Prax) because it seemed that there was more going on that I didn't know the details of. After some years I realised that all those references and details did not necessarily exist in a concrete form. Now I almost feel like I can't run Glorantha because there's too much information (yes I know I can ignore it if I want). Well that and I'd like more info on Teshnos. 

The good thing with Glorantha is that Greg went to a lot of effort to make sure that other people had a solid grasp of its underlying principles and truths - Jeff, Sandy and others. With (e.g.) Tekumel, there are secrets of that setting that Prof Barker probably never told anyone (or they are somewhere in his massive archive of notes, written in Tsolyani/Urdu which probably only a few people could even begin to read even if the Tekumel Foundation would release them). I think Barker was much more completist in that he actually did have notes on all sorts of details and history, all written over a ~60+ year period, and we know that he had hundreds of NPCs that he would track and who had effects on the world as he ran it.

In the end you have to consult your pineal gland and make stuff up.

(*) Gratuitous Hawkwind reference.

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Always start what you finish.

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22 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I would argue Lovecraft here as well.

I'd argue against Lovecraft here, actually.

He gets most of his actual richness & complexity from the real-world sources, and thence from overlaying the Mythos' invented past-age / past-era stuff (as different ancient beings -- and ancient races' remnants and resurgencies -- impinge on the mundane; but above all, from the "mystique" of the Mythos itself, the unknown, the unknowable, the implied "greater reality" that is forever out of mankind's grasp.

Which -- because "implied" and "unknowable" -- Lovecraft doesn't need to work out in explicit detail, and the reader doesn't know, cannot know... cannot even comprehend, if one takes the Mythos at face value (our would that be "faceless" value?)!

Compare the most-well-understood of Lovecraft's ancient races (Deep Ones? Mi-go?  Not sure) to a moderately-developed section of Glorantha, such as Esrolia (i.e. not the core DragonPass/Prax, but neither the distant areas like Kralorela or "the West").  Glorantha is just a deeper and richer place.

Lovecraft's genius, IMHO, was in grasping our formless and irrational dread, and writing to it:  addressing the tension of his stories to the only-dimly-realized and fearful (but very potent) parts of ourselves that are untouched by such complexities & intellectual depths as the cultures of Barker & Stafford.

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58 minutes ago, d(sqrt(-1)) said:

Now I almost feel like I can't run Glorantha because there's too much information (yes I know I can ignore it if I want). Well that and I'd like more info on Teshnos. 

Have you seen Paul Baker's The Houses of Teshnos? It's a lovely piece of work, with two five-star reviews so far.

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57 minutes ago, d(sqrt(-1)) said:

... Forgotten Realms too (?) ...

AIUI, Greenwood invented the Realms as his fantasy-fiction universe, intentionally making it a kitchen-sink pastiche so he could plausibly set anything from stone-age tribes to late-renaissance clockwork into the setting as the need and mood struck him to write.

Like Tekumel and Glorantha, the Realms began before RPG's, before even a glimmer of the notion had struck Arneson, Gygax & Co.  Tekumel was Barker's exercise in linguistics, beginning in the 1940's; Glorantha was Stafford's 1960's-origin exploration of myth&culture; the Realms was created (also in the '60s) to write fantasy short-stories & novels.

It wasn't until the mid/late 1970s that any of these (already well-developed) worlds met the (still very-young) field of RPG's, but the different mediums of world-building synnergized incredibly well!

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Jeff said:

It also ends up with people speculating on the nature of the setting based on early drafts which Greg (or I) might cheerfully throw away, reject, or modify. 

Eh, fair enough. I still love the Stafford Library, though.

Edited by Thoror
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, d(sqrt(-1)) said:

probably Forgotten Realms too (?)

The Forgotten Realms mythology is a mess, and not in the good, deliberate Gloranthan way. The biggest examples are the Time of Troubles and the Spellplague: two ridiculously big shakeups which only happened because D&D released new editions.

For that kind of D&D-style, comparatively-mindless fun mythology I very much prefer Pathfinder/Golarion.

Edited by Thoror
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1 hour ago, g33k said:

AIUI, Greenwood invented the Realms as his fantasy-fiction universe, intentionally making it a kitchen-sink pastiche so he could plausibly set anything from stone-age tribes to late-renaissance clockwork into the setting as the need and mood struck him to write.

Like Tekumel and Glorantha, the Realms began before RPG's, before even a glimmer of the notion had struck Arneson, Gygax & Co.  Tekumel was Barker's exercise in linguistics, beginning in the 1940's; Glorantha was Stafford's 1960's-origin exploration of myth&culture; the Realms was created (also in the '60s) to write fantasy short-stories & novels.

It wasn't until the mid/late 1970s that any of these (already well-developed) worlds met the (still very-young) field of RPG's, but the different mediums of world-building synnergized incredibly well!

 

Yes, Middle-Earth, Glorantha, Tekumel and Forgotten Realms were the only large scale worlds from before RPGs I could think of that made the transition.

Always start what you finish.

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25 minutes ago, d(sqrt(-1)) said:

 

Yes, Middle-Earth, Glorantha, Tekumel and Forgotten Realms were the only large scale worlds from before RPGs I could think of that made the transition.

I consider them -- from a certain point of view -- "the three greats."

But don't forget the RPG'ification of older IP's... e.g. Barsoom, Dune, etc.
And lots of the infamous Appendix N (D&D-inspirational) works -- LOTR, Lyonesse, etc -- have their own dedicated non-D&D RPGs.

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15 hours ago, Jeff said:

It also ends up with people speculating on the nature of the setting based on early drafts which Greg (or I) might cheerfully throw away, reject, or modify. 

That's the whole point. Glorantha is evolving continually, and as such it used to be different from its current state, and those differences, and how they evolve, have value from my point of view. It's an essential document for what we could call Gloranthan historiography.

I do not buy the argument that sharing this historic document in its current messy state would prevent any kind of future publication. Budget, timelines, human ressources, expertise, those are real issues that could prevent such publication. But sharing a draft that is already circulating publicly ? 

The only people winning anything by keeping this document secret instead of sharing it with us are the few people owning a print copy and using its rarity to force speculation over its price. 

We are numerous fans wanting to read this document in its current state, without any further editing, and we will be more than happy to deal with its shortcomings, be they handwritten erratas, bad jokes or non-existing indexes. 

It's frustrating to know that the only thing that prevents us, the community of hardcore Gloranthaphiles, from reading this foundation document is apparently nothing but a feeling that so far seems to have no grounding in reality.

This is not about publishing, this is about sharing access to historical artefacts. It would be like giving access to the Dead Sea scrolls to a bunch of old Rabbis - their interest is such that you know they won't be complaining about the poor conditions those texts have had to go through before reaching them. And who knows, maybe among those old sage someone will have an insight that might, in itself, give the whole thing enough value to warrant a proper editing overhaul and a widespread print publication one of these days.

That's how I feel.

I, for one, would be thrilled to finally read Arkat's Saga ! And I must not be the only old one.

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10 hours ago, Hijabg said:

That's the whole point. Glorantha is evolving continually, and as such it used to be different from its current state, and those differences, and how they evolve, have value from my point of view. It's an essential document for what we could call Gloranthan historiography.

I do not buy the argument that sharing this historic document in its current messy state would prevent any kind of future publication. Budget, timelines, human ressources, expertise, those are real issues that could prevent such publication. But sharing a draft that is already circulating publicly ? 

The only people winning anything by keeping this document secret instead of sharing it with us are the few people owning a print copy and using its rarity to force speculation over its price. 

We are numerous fans wanting to read this document in its current state, without any further editing, and we will be more than happy to deal with its shortcomings, be they handwritten erratas, bad jokes or non-existing indexes. 

It's frustrating to know that the only thing that prevents us, the community of hardcore Gloranthaphiles, from reading this foundation document is apparently nothing but a feeling that so far seems to have no grounding in reality.

This is not about publishing, this is about sharing access to historical artefacts. It would be like giving access to the Dead Sea scrolls to a bunch of old Rabbis - their interest is such that you know they won't be complaining about the poor conditions those texts have had to go through before reaching them. And who knows, maybe among those old sage someone will have an insight that might, in itself, give the whole thing enough value to warrant a proper editing overhaul and a widespread print publication one of these days.

That's how I feel.

I, for one, would be thrilled to finally read Arkat's Saga ! And I must not be the only old one.

In the end, we're currently taking the same approach that Greg Stafford generally used. We publish things when we feel they are ready for publication and worth the effort. As the print production manager, I know how much time, money, resources and similar go into getting something published. For a number of Greg's manuscripts, we don't feel it is worth it. On a fairly regular basis we get asked to reprint/pod/sell an out-of-print niche item, and Arkat's Saga, for example, is definitely a niche item. Unfortunately, when we have made a niche item available for sale the sales numbers are underwhelming. I was shocked at how few PDFs of Wyrm's Footnotes we have sold. Sure, you can say having a printed version would have sold more units, but I have numbers on such things as well and they don't move the needle that much either. Spending a lot of time and resources on something to sell 50-100 units just isn't worth it when that time can be spent elsewhere, and on projects that will sell thousands of copies.

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Hope that Helps,
Rick Meints - Chaosium, Inc.

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3 hours ago, Rick Meints said:

I was shocked at how few PDFs of Wyrm's Footnotes we have sold.

I'm just speaking for myself: I would buy Arkat's Saga, but I'm not really interested in buying that. I know how important it has been in the history of Glorantha, but precisely for that reason a big part of its content has ended up elsewhere: the Runequest Companion, Wyrm's Footprints, the Guide and the Sourcebook... And personally, I prefer books to magazines.

Moreso the Runequest Classic edition products; I don't find them very interesting because most of it was reprinted in the (very awesome) Gloranthan Classics books. But hey, those came after a pretty successful Kickstarter, so what would I know about Gloranthan money-making.

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9 hours ago, Thoror said:

I'm just speaking for myself: I would buy Arkat's Saga, but I'm not really interested in buying that. I know how important it has been in the history of Glorantha, but precisely for that reason a big part of its content has ended up elsewhere: the Runequest Companion, Wyrm's Footprints, the Guide and the Sourcebook... And personally, I prefer books to magazines.

Moreso the Runequest Classic edition products; I don't find them very interesting because most of it was reprinted in the (very awesome) Gloranthan Classics books. But hey, those came after a pretty successful Kickstarter, so what would I know about Gloranthan money-making.

Here's my take on the situation: In general, the demand for a niche product doesn't translate into a lot of sales. We've only had a few dozen people (at most) ask us to get a hold of Arkat's Saga. If we thought Arkat's Saga was both a solid product and it would make enough money, it would get on the production schedule.

As the producer of the Gloranthan Classics, I loved doing them and they sold quite well. That said, we have had steady ongoing sales of the RuneQuest Classics, probably because the printed Gloranthan Classics are basically out of print and many people missed out on getting them.

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Hope that Helps,
Rick Meints - Chaosium, Inc.

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19 hours ago, Rick Meints said:

Spending a lot of time and resources on something to sell 50-100 units just isn't worth it when that time can be spent elsewhere

Don't spend ressources then. Just share it online, for free, in its current state. No editing whatsoever. 

I am disheartened to read about all those artificial obstacles that are being raised to prevent us from reading that document, and even more so when it's clear none of those issues will ever be resolved in time: Arkat's Saga in its current shape and form will never be shared with us, ever, since if Chaosium decides to ever publish it, it will be heavily edited and transformed into something else. We will never read the old original manuscripts. Never ever. 

When I think back about Greg Stafford's generosity, his eagerness to share his vision and to answer our questions as we explored the world he had discovered, I wonder where that spirit is gone now, as it sure doesn't seem to be an aspect of Chaosium's Wyter anymore.

Imagine how great it would be to read this together as a community, to comment it on this forum, and see how things have changed, how some other things should better be reinterpreted or forgotten, all while unearthing a few hidden gems along the way.

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1 hour ago, Hijabg said:

When I think back about Greg Stafford's generosity, his eagerness to share his vision and to answer our questions as we explored the world he had discovered, I wonder where that spirit is gone now, as it sure doesn't seem to be an aspect of Chaosium's Wyter anymore.

That feels staggeringly unfair. He *did* share it, in various physical forms; that he didn't share it in other forms, or more widely, was presumably his choice. Saying that Chaosium, who are publishing lots of amazing Glorantha material, are somehow being false to the memory of someone so close to them and their work is a wretched thing to do.

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