Jump to content

Tonight on Unsolved Arkati Mysteries: The Unbreakable Sword (... or was it?)


Recommended Posts

I'm confused, so I'm going to leave here several quotes for us to consider.

- Arkat has always had the Unbreakable Sword: Whatever the truth, Arkat possessed a powerful weapon before he left the island [Brithos]: the weapon was called God-Cleaver, reputed to be the Unbreakable Sword. [The Guide to Glorantha, page 128] Arkat’s initiation into the cult of Humakt in 426 was hailed as a victory by the Swords (high priests) of that cult because Arkat’s weapon had always been the Unbreakable Sword, supposedly wrought by Humakt himself. [The Guide to Glorantha, page 129]

- Arkat won the Unbreakable Sword well after the start of the Gbaji wars: Sometimes Arkat was halted [by the Golden Empire]. Then he would stop to HeroQuest, and return with some new and devastating wonder. On one of these HeroQuests he won Humakt's Unbreakable Sword. [Dorastor: Land of Doom, page 9]

- Unbreakable, huh? Well, Arkat, I hope you kept the receipts: The Deceiver was dismembered by Arkat's great sword, which broke from the task. [The Guide to Glorantha, page 386] Numerous ancient magical treasures of the lost Feldichi race and the Bright Empire, including pieces of the Unbreakable Sword (...) lie hidden in Dorastor. [Dorastor: Land of Doom, page 4]

So yeah, when did he win that stupid sword? Why had something so... breakable the name "Unbreakable"? Where is Arkat's Saga when a guy needs it? So many questions! Only in Glorantha, folks.

  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 50
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

The Unbreakable Sword is like Chekhov's Gun. You don't introduce an Unbreakable Sword into a story if you aren't going to break it in the third act.

Well perhaps the Unbreakable Sword was unbreakable only because it hadn't yet fullfilled its destiny, which was to kill Gbaji, so that's why it broke down in pieces right afterwards. The Sword was the

literally this is not only hilarious but incredibly accurate, if you were a player who showed up with Unbreakable Sword on your character sheet you'd be telling me what kinds of conflicts you wanted t

Posted Images

Well perhaps the Unbreakable Sword was unbreakable only because it hadn't yet fullfilled its destiny, which was to kill Gbaji, so that's why it broke down in pieces right afterwards. The Sword was the oath that he would kill Gbaji.

  • Like 7
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Thoror said:

So yeah, when did he win that stupid sword?

It's likely not different than the First Sword, Death.  We know Humakt found it and brought it to the world, and always wielded it.  And, yet, Death was subsequently wielded to deadly effect by Zorak Zoran, Mostal, Trickster, Orlanth....  Death worked perfectly well for each of them, so did they not effectively carry the First Sword?  Some stories say it was stolen, or copied, and yet those within particular cults undoubtedly have their stories of how they gained Humakt's Sword.  All are likely True.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Runeblogger said:

Well perhaps the Unbreakable Sword was unbreakable only because it hadn't yet fullfilled its destiny, which was to kill Gbaji, so that's why it broke down in pieces right afterwards. The Sword was the oath that he would kill Gbaji.

Sound about right.

That or, if you believe in the theory that Gbaji was the real winner of the duel, it broke because its legitimate owner had died.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Thoror said:

Why had something so... breakable the name "Unbreakable"?

The Unbreakable Sword breaking seems like a nice way to show what a state the cosmos was in?

(Or quoting Iain Banks: "What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? ... The unstoppable force stops. The immovable object moves.")

  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Let's dig a little deeper into the phrasing here. Arkat's weapon had "always been the Unbreakable Sword". So perhaps it's not the physical object Arkat held in his hands as he stabbed away, but rather some quality about him which made any weapon he held an incarnation of God-Cleaver. But of course, Arkat would not have had this knowledge from birth. So at some point between 375 and 426, Arkat discovers that the Unbreakable Sword is part of his body or soul, and always has been, on a trip through the Otherside, possibly shortly before initiating into Humakt's cult.

The Unbreakable Sword then breaks in the process of tearing apart the Deceiver. Now, I don't have much to say about that directly. It seems a little strange that tearing apart Gbaji the Deceiver would tear Arkat apart as well as Nysalor, after all, we all know that Nysalor was Gbaji all along, unless you're some kinda Lunar. Anyways, Arkat comes out of that with his soul torn apart, and pieces of it scattered throughout Dorastor, presumably hallowing whatever they got embedded in with the power of the Destroyer.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Eff said:

The Unbreakable Sword then breaks in the process of tearing apart the Deceiver. Now, I don't have much to say about that directly. It seems a little strange that tearing apart Gbaji the Deceiver would tear Arkat apart as well as Nysalor, after all, we all know that Nysalor was Gbaji all along, unless you're some kinda Lunar. Anyways, Arkat comes out of that with his soul torn apart, and pieces of it scattered throughout Dorastor, presumably hallowing whatever they got embedded in with the power of the Destroyer.

Well, Arkat was Nysalor's Other, so there's a certain kind of symmetry to it. 

Granted, Arkat (or whoever came out of the rubble) lived many years after that, establishing an Empire and seemingly doing the whole Cincinnatus thing, so it seems they fared a lot better being an Other than, say, Sheng did.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Non-canonical of course, 'written' thousands of years later...

Some Orlanthi say Arkat's father was Humakt, the God of War, or a barbarian Humakti hero. This seems unlikely, for a half breed would not have been accepted as a horali cadet. The zzaburi tested all suspected of mixed parentage, destroying or expelling those adjudged impure. Despite being assessed several times, Arkat passed all the examinations posed.

These legends also claim that Arkat possessed a powerful weapon belonging to his father which he freed from under a boulder before he left the island. It is called God-Cleaver in the legends, reputed to be the Unbreakable Sword of Humakt, fashioned of Adamantine, which is said to be formed of raw incarnate Law.

It is improbable that a cadet would own or be permitted by the zzaburi to retain such a powerful weapon, and the Hero probably obtained it during the wars on the mainland. Instead, it may have been gained on one of the Hero’s many heroquests during the wars in Ralios.

It is said that in his lifetime Arkat proved he was the son of Humakt, a pure horali, and all the other things legend claimed for his origins, impossible as that may seem, unless there was more than one Arkat... It is possible that some of the deeds ascribed to Arkat were performed by one or more of his Companions instead.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/325525/Men-of-the-West?src=hottest_filtered

And many many other things...

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/28/2021 at 10:14 PM, Thoror said:

- Unbreakable, huh? Well, Arkat, I hope you kept the receipts: The Deceiver was dismembered by Arkat's great sword, which broke from the task. [The Guide to Glorantha, page 386]

HeroQuesting is all about doing the impossible. Breaking an Unbreakable Sword is just the results of a HeroQuest. Perhaps the sword was so full of the power of dismembering The Deceiver that it broke under the strain, bursting from within instead of being broken from without, I would say that it could not be broken from without.

On 5/28/2021 at 10:14 PM, Thoror said:

Numerous ancient magical treasures of the lost Feldichi race and the Bright Empire, including pieces of the Unbreakable Sword (...) lie hidden in Dorastor. [Dorastor: Land of Doom, page 4]

Thus allowing the Adventurers the chance of finding the pieces of the Unbreakable sword and reforging it.

On 5/28/2021 at 10:14 PM, Thoror said:

So yeah, when did he win that stupid sword?

In my Glorantha it was given to him as a baby by his father, Humakt, or won by his mother when she seduced Humakt. Maybe the sword was her prize, or was Arkat's prize.

On 5/28/2021 at 10:14 PM, Thoror said:

Why had something so... breakable the name "Unbreakable"?

Until then it was Unbreakable.

The ability to dismember The Deceiver came at a price, the breaking of the sword. standard HeroQuesting stuff, really.

Maybe it is an allegory, of Arkat perhaps breaking his geases and thus having his sword break, even though that had never happened before.

On 5/28/2021 at 10:14 PM, Thoror said:

Where is Arkat's Saga when a guy needs it?

That is a whole different story.

On 5/28/2021 at 10:14 PM, Thoror said:

So many questions! Only in Glorantha, folks.

That's why we have forums such as this, to ask questions.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

what I see is circle:

there is the god time

then there was the time, and during the time (will it end a day ?) there are ages

We see that every age is a kind of reproduction of the god time.

And during an age there are years.

We see that every year is a kind of reproduction of the god time.

At a year level, a life level, we find hero running heroquesting.

What I "feel" then, is :

the end of one age is when the amount of power gained from heroquesting in mundane world is so high that the channel between godtime and mundane world is at a maximum.

 

And at this time when a hero performs a heroquest, there is a god performing a godquest, coming back with/in the hero. But gods are gods and even in the mudane world, they "redo" what they did/do in the godtime.

 

Arkat come back one day not as Arkat but as Arkat+Humakt . The proof is Arkat had the Humakt Sword.

And what did happen at the end of the age/godtime ? Humakt like Arkat was dead as the world was nearly destroyed.

the unbreakable sword is unbreakable in the world, when there is no world, there is no sword. Until someone was able to rebuild the world, to create a new age, and when the new age starts the sword is here again, unbreakable
We know Arkat as Humakt

We know Arkat as Troll. But to become a troll, the ritual includes that the human dies then rebirths as a troll. The human must die, as Humakt must die.

 

And the second age started. After all, darkness was the first element in the world, Arkat-troll was the first king-god of the second age

Was Arkat himself a reproduction of the cycle ? Was Ar-kat  Ar-achnee Solara ?

 

maybe a dumbest therory 😛

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

When you bring something back from a heroquest, only rarely are you literally bringing something physical back from the other side, normally you are taking an object, maybe even an already magical one, with you, and when you come back it has now become magically a version of, a physical presence of, that mythic object. 
(note: not a copy of. The objects wielded by gods are not simple physical objects, any more than gods are just magically powerful physical beings). The more powerful and appropriate an item is, and the more effective the HeroQuest, the more effectively it transmits/represents the mythic power

so perhaps Arkat starts with a sword, a mighty sword - perhaps even that astonishing thing, an adamantine sword. Or perhaps it is just a mighty sword at first (an anchanted iron sword of master workmanship, say) and some later quest it transforms to adamantine. Or perhaps he wins it on an early heroquest, a Brithini horal quest, showing that he has the right to wield the sword given to him by Humakt (the Brithini would not describe it in quite those terms, or encourage their Horali to do such quests, but it fits their myths). Later, he heroquests and is able to prove that it’s not just an amazing sword, it is Humakts sword. And that he is Humakt. Perhaps he must later quest to show that he, as Zorak Zoran the troll, is able to wield it, ultimately taking it from his earlier self. 
But later, it becomes necessary, for mythic and mystic reasons, to rewind that identity. He must do something unjust, or otherwise deny his divine identity. The sword is no longer the true sword.

(there is probably an intervening quest in which he repeats the Hrestoli man of all quest to demonstrate his mastery of the horal caste, and making his sword a Sword of Justice, too). 
 

A more prosaic version of this might be that the adamantine blade of the Unbreakable Sword doesn’t break, only the grip, the pommel, the scabbard, leaving the blade an unwieldy adamant slicer impractical for combat, but that seems a bit mythically lacking. Anyway, we know that while adamant will never break in normal use, being the hardest thing in Glorantha, it can be worked (by Mostali magic, and perhaps others - I still think Zzabur would have some idea, as would some of the great mystic powers), so breaking the Unbreakable seems plausible to me, just as known consequence of a deliberate magical act, not an accident. 

The basic idea here, that the weapon of a true god in myth can exist simultaneously with a physical weapon that embodies that power (ie that wielding Humakts sword means you have proved the sword can channel the power of Humakts sword, not that you have taken the sword from Humakt, who exists in the abstract and eternal Godtime) also explains why the physical Red Sword of Tolat does not imply that the original god weapon is removed from its owner, confusing explained in some old documents as there being two different Red Swords, one of which is the child of the other. 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

AFAIK, Arkat was born (and possibly conceived) on the Other Side, during the Sunstop. His mother appears to have been the daughter of a Horali (less sure about that, or how the caste of Brithini children is assigned - whether by birth order or by paternal descent). She might have brought a sword with her. If that blade was adamantine, she would have had to "loan" it...

Arkat's mother probably would have seen the Dawn with her own eyes, too. The Brithini wife of Seshnegi emperor Keramalos (aka Kralas, 887-901), Somali, might have been her age mate. (Immortality avoiding menopause... one reason the Brithini don't have that many children might be that ovulation needs to be magically triggered?)

The entirety of Brithini population through all ages may be mind-bogglingly low - at the Dawn, many nobles were second or third generation descendants. Malkion himself may have sired dozens of Brithini - or at least the ancestors of all Talar lineages, and possibly Zzaburite lineages. Tilntae wives wouldn't really be inconvenienced by pregnancies. The apocryphal Malkioni texts name several lineages coming from sons and daughters of Malkion Aerlitsson and Phlia (yes, sibling marriages, including Talar and Eule), not just the four caste brothers but also Horal (the sword-bearer is named Holar in that text, husband of Menena), Neleos, and presumably founding talars of the other Neliomi colonies.

 

At least in our world, hard doesn't mean unbreakable - diamond can be split by application of shock along one of its facet planes (most commonly parallel to the square of the D8 shape of the raw crystal, in order to create brilliants without throwing away the smaller bit).

As far as I understand Adamantium, it cannot be worked - the artisan works the bit of Stone (truestone?), which is (then? thereby?) refined into Adamantium.

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Joerg said:

AFAIK, Arkat was born (and possibly conceived) on the Other Side, during the Sunstop. His mother appears to have been the daughter of a Horali (less sure about that, or how the caste of Brithini children is assigned - whether by birth order or by paternal descent). She might have brought a sword with her. If that blade was adamantine, she would have had to "loan" it...

Arkat's mother probably would have seen the Dawn with her own eyes, too. The Brithini wife of Seshnegi emperor Keramalos (aka Kralas, 887-901), Somali, might have been her age mate. (Immortality avoiding menopause... one reason the Brithini don't have that many children might be that ovulation needs to be magically triggered?)

 

Where on earth have you gotten this from? Are you just letting inspiration flow or where does that come from??

Link to post
Share on other sites

Martin pretty much nailed the story I know (we likely have similar pieces of Greg paper):

On 5/29/2021 at 9:52 PM, M Helsdon said:

Some Orlanthi say Arkat's father was Humakt, the God of War, or a barbarian Humakti hero. This seems unlikely, for a half breed would not have been accepted as a horali cadet. The zzaburi tested all suspected of mixed parentage, destroying or expelling those adjudged impure. Despite being assessed several times, Arkat passed all the examinations posed.

These legends also claim that Arkat possessed a powerful weapon belonging to his father which he freed from under a boulder before he left the island. It is called God-Cleaver in the legends, reputed to be the Unbreakable Sword of Humakt, fashioned of Adamantine, which is said to be formed of raw incarnate Law.

It's a clear riff on the story of a woman who meets a god and has a child with them, and the god vanishes from the story. (Modern day versions are told in Guardians of the Galaxy, and Aquaman). In this case the woman was (IIRC Amilla), daughter of a Duke of Lokawal and a barbarian hero (likely Humakt or his avatar), called Truesword. His father leaves him behind some cool treasure that he can recover when he's the right age (ten) - from under a rock by passing some tests (very sword in the stone), one of the many items is the Unbreakable Sword. It's a standard tale of destiny, and accepting who your father is, and why he abandoned you.

Edited by David Scott
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, AndreasDavour said:

Where on earth have you gotten this from? Are you just letting inspiration flow or where does that come from??

I have a fragment of the early Malkioni texts which has a couple of genealogies of people from Brithos and Seshnela in the first century after the Dawn, I sat in when Greg read from the fragment "I hate trolls" at a convention, the king lists of Seshnela are on the Chaosium website, and the Brithini caste system and how it affects offspring has been discussed numerous times in the past three dozen years.

I don't have the story David quoted, but it was discussed. The other side part of the birth came up in a panel with Greg when talking about unusual births.

The rest would be my conclusions...

We don't hear a lot about female Brithini (or early female Malkioni, for that matter). Menena as the caste mother, Xemela (Hrestol's mother), Fenela (Hrestol's sister), and in Hrestol's Saga his wife from Horalwal on Brithos, her two sisters and his mother-in law, plus a Horalwal priestess of Menena, plus the nameless daughter of Froalar's chief wizard. Two more daughters of Malkion and Phlia in the genealogies (Eule, sister/wife of Talar, and the mother of Neleos, sister-wife of his father). Both Zzabur and Holar Sword-bearer have a son, but no mother is given in either case.

There are a few more female names in the outline of the soap opera of the Serpent King dynasty ("The reign of Froalar").  Nothing on Arkat, though.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

hhhhWHAT?

Well, yeah. See, that's the thing about the blue man. His people lie all the time or at least are under no geas to reveal inconvenient Truth.

Whether this is our normative Third Age "born of man and woman through Fertility" paternity is a trickier question similar to the question of who Arkat's father "really" was. I suspect his mother told him a lot of stories in that enchanted forest full of enigmas (proto-riddles) and they didn't always line up smoothly with one another. She had things she needed to figure out too. But the experience taught him what he needed to get the sword and go on to have the career he had.

One more question people could ask: what were those barbarians doing on the island if life on the island is always so timeless, inviolate and lawful?

Edited by scott-martin
columbo
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
  • Confused 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Joerg said:

Holar Sword-bearer

I like what you're doing with this. He might have been given the name HLR when he married into the caste system to reflect the way as an obvious jock he was best suited to do HRL work. The original HRL people then suffer the tribulations suggested in the sagas and so need to be replenished via adoption, marriage or even conquest . . . in Arkat's day the "gwymir" classifier seems to have been prevalent at least among the grunts so this is a site of lexical tension / sorcerous innovation.

Letting it decant in recent years I still believe all the genealogies are by definition "magical" diagrams for the TLR system and MNN(a) is a kind of transitive property, the symbolic vehicle they used to expand the population through both exogamy and parentage . . . not exactly a liberated gender scheme but still better than what you get with ZBR and far from the "mysogenist heresy" that we see echoed in currents like Rokarism. MNN(a) on her own has of course developed differently as heathen DR(M/N)(R/L) populations are brought in and pushed under, but that's not necessarily how her cult worked at the beginning.

All of this confuses and maybe even annoys ZBR but that doesn't bother me.

Edited by scott-martin
if you can read this ask yourself what kind of weapon DoRMaL was
  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:
11 hours ago, Joerg said:

Zzabur [has] a son


hhhhWHAT?

Once upon a time, the four sons of Malkion were presented as the ancestors of all of the people belonging to the respective caste... so yes, the little Zzabur caste wizards would have had a grand-daddy.

But then we received the Six Tribes of Danmalastan, with a different set of sons of Malkion as their ancestors.

And yet, these are a bunch of immortal men with rather few immortal women mixed in, marrying goddesses of the land (sea, whatever) in order to go forth and multiply, and some of them claim to be the embodiment of the first runes. Perhaps time to return to the Ancient West thread?

 

Still, I would like to get an idea about fourth century Brithos. A land which has recovered from the recent uproar when their ruling Talar was slain by a jealous caste-breaking upstart from some colony in Seshneg, which led to a wave or two of planned births at least of Horali in order to be prepared for another such interference. That's how there is a Horali trainee unit for Arkat the Wonder Boy to join when the expedition is sent to faithful Arolanit to deal with Gbaji.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

 

7 hours ago, scott-martin said:

One more question people could ask: what were those barbarians doing on the island if life on the island is always so timeless, inviolate and lawful?

What kind of barbarians would make it to Brithos? Vadeli are one possibility, but how would those non-warriors be a threat?

There is one barbarian demigod featuring greatly in the affairs of Seshnela, Damol Aerlitsson. He and his sons were instrumental in turning the tide against the Pendali, but were also involved in some intrigue. Damol was brought down, but left at least two cities named after them and an order of warrior monks named after one of his cities in the Jrusteli era.

Or it could be descendants from Malkion's maternal kin, the Yggites.

Or it could be one of the runes taking shapes as humans wandering about, but would you call that a human?

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...