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source material from the perspective of someone tainted by chaos?


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one of the things that drew me to gloranthan/runescape is the notion of order vs. chaos but i find that, all too often, those ideas are boiled down to just being 'good vs. evil' couched in different language.

so i'm curious- has anyone written any material from rhe perspective of folks who just happen to have born into association with chaos?

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It did not use to be so, back in the days when murder hoboes strode tall through the lands of Glorantha (RQ 1-3). Then many parties could be considered evil and the line twixt good and evil was blurred. Us older grognards remember these days well, and understand that  good and evil alike could detest the core of chaos which was the unmaking. 

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"Chaos" isn't "evil," precisely.

It is unbounded potential  (to create or destroy or change)  without any inherent moral or intellectual guidance.

It can give rise to amazing beauty, beyond your wildest hopes and dreams.

It can also warp and corrupt what is pure, destroy what is great, and create things more vile than your worst nightmares.

Inevitably, eventually, Chaos will create something so potent and so vile, that it will destroy all of Glorantha (that is the nature of anything both unbounded & unguided).

But, just like the lion isn't "evil" for eating an innocent antelope, chaos isn't "evil" for destroying things.

Nevertheless, many of us antelopes WILL oppose it, utterly; and for ease of use & comprehension, many just slap the "evil" tag onto it instead of philosophizing...

===

IIRC there is only 1 "official"  (Chaosium-authored)  fiction / sidebar / etc which is written in the "voice" of someone who knowingly embraces Chaos; that's in the Prince of Sartar webcomic, in those panels/story-arcs which have Jar-eel the Razoress speaking.  @Jeffis there other notable content to visit?

IRC, we only see what she SAYS and DOES; we don't see any interior-life stuff to gain an unambiguous understanding of her motivations.
 

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49 minutes ago, littlewitchmaus said:

so i'm curious- has anyone written any material from rhe perspective of folks who just happen to have born into association with chaos?

You know, I missed this entirely (sorry). I am thinking that the only thing I can think of in the canon—and it does not fit but may help—is Cults/Lords of Terror. The story of Paulis is interesting. @soltaksshave you tackled this question.

... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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Hmm

 

I think I could imagine a "What my Grandfather Told me" type document for vampires and ogres.  I can't for other chaotic sentients.

 

In both cases, there's a disdain for the world as it is, though ogres and vampires go in extremely different directions.

Ogres wish to feast upon humans and destroy the the landscape by summoning the cacodemon.  I'm quite sure ogre religion & spirituality is about how the very fabric of reality is evil and must be ritually destroyed to allow for some sort of good end or rebirth.  They know they are outnumbered, though, so they work through conspiracies and secret families.

 

Vampires, OTOH, don't consider themselves chaotic IIRC.  They simply feel no need to be constrained by the "natural laws" of Glorantha, including the laws of life & death.  They are egoists and nihilists to an extreme.

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Chaos is about violating taboos, change unconstrained by boundaries, and the end of things. Most beings born chaotic are members of the chaotic races such as Broo, Ogres, Scorpion Folk, etc. Each has their own particular agenda but a common thread I think it disdain for the constraints of 'normal' society, or even the laws of nature.

The problem that all chaotics must face though is that while chaos made them the thing they are, it will also destroy them in order to make them something else, or just destroy them full stop. That's what chaos features are, they're physical manifestations of becoming something else, becoming not you. It's a one way slippery slope, or perhaps rather an infinitely many ways maze of branching slippery slides, but every way is down.

Edited by simonh
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Check out the Runequest Glorantha Wiki for RQ links and resources. Any updates or contributions welcome!

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It won't be easy,
You'll think it strange
When I try to explain how I feel
That I still need your love after all that I've done

You won't believe me,
All you’ll see is the Young Life you once knew
Although she's gone up to the Sky
Turning through Seven Phases of Moon.

I had to let it happen,
I had to Change
Couldn't stay all my life in Torang 
Looking out for Carmania, staying out of the Sun.

So I chose Freedom
Running around trying everything new
But Chaos impressed me the most
I always expected it to.

Don't cry for me, O Peloria:
The Truth is I'll never leave you
All through my Cycles, my mad existence
I'll keep my promise, don't keep your distance.

And as for the Empire
And as for fame
I never invited them in
Though it seemed to the world they were all I desired.

They are Illusion,
they're not the solutions they promised to be
The answer was here all the time
I love you, and hope you love me...

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1 hour ago, Nevermet said:

I think I could imagine a "What my Grandfather Told me" type document for vampires and ogres.  I can't for other chaotic sentients.

Actually there is one for Broos and for Ogres in Shadows on the Borderland (RQ3).

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Any Lunar source material might be a good starting point.

If you criticise the openly chaotic Lunar Empire you will be surprised at how many people jump on to defend them, even though the Lunar Empire is mostly portrayed as one of the bad guys.

The empire seems particularly popular in European cultures, which tend to have a different perspective on the role of government to the USA. Lunar characters are entirely playable. In some ways they are more interesting than Orlanthi (ducking for cover), because instead of a simple black and white morality, "chaos bad, kin good", you have this delicious dichotomy where lunar chaos hunters sometimes have to be nice to chaotics under the protection of the goddess, or risk civil repercussions - at least until they receive proof that those chaotics are doing something naughty, and receive official sanction to act on their evidence of wrongdoing.

Don't get me wrong, my personal sympathies tend towards Arkat and Argarath. But a good case can be made that both these heroes were ruthless butchers, wrecking the peace, tolerance and stability that gods obliquely associated with chaos tried to bring to the world.

Edited by EricW
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7 hours ago, littlewitchmaus said:

has anyone written any material from rhe perspective of folks who just happen to have born into association with chaos?

A long time ago in the RQ3 days, there was a perspective of the Ogre Talons published in Shadows on the Borderlands.

You can find it through the Wayback Machine here:  https://web.archive.org/web/19981205172750/http://www.glorantha.com:80/library/priests/ogre.html

 

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1 hour ago, EricW said:

Lunar characters are entirely playable. In some ways they are more interesting than Orlanthi (ducking for cover), because instead of a simple black and white morality, "chaos bad, kin good", you have this delicious dichotomy where lunar chaos hunters sometimes have to be nice to chaotics under the protection of the goddess, or risk civil repercussions - at least until they receive proof that those chaotics are doing something naughty, and receive official sanction to act on their evidence of wrongdoing.

I also personally dislike the rather simplistic portrayal of Orlanthi society that is absolutely a common view (I don't mean you); so many people seem to think of it like some kind of Vikings instead of a sprawling collection of highly disparate communities with extremely different ideas of how communities should be organised (matriarchal queendoms, independent but heavily male-dominated elder councils, a king made licit by marriage to a divine Solar figure) from diverse origins but the focus on which is a Mediterranean climate.

Also, there's a lack of underlining the deep connection between Orlanthi communities and Darkness pantheons, and the tensions between that and Solar/Lunar connections.

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30 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

I also personally dislike the rather simplistic portrayal of Orlanthi society that is absolutely a common view (I don't mean you); so many people seem to think of it like some kind of Vikings instead of a sprawling collection of highly disparate communities with extremely different ideas of how communities should be organised (matriarchal queendoms, independent but heavily male-dominated elder councils, a king made licit by marriage to a divine Solar figure) from diverse origins but the focus on which is a Mediterranean climate.

 

Yes, good call! What you are calling out is indeed the best thing about the world, its wonderful diversity. 1st long RQ3 campaign I ran had 4 Sartarite farmers, 3 orlanthi one humakti and all as different as could be!

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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2 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Yes, good call! What you are calling out is indeed the best thing about the world, its wonderful diversity. 1st long RQ3 campaign I ran had 4 Sartarite farmers, 3 orlanthi one humakti and all as different as could be!

Don’t forget the trickster - especially with Humakti in the party :-). 

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4 hours ago, EricW said:

Any Lunar source material might be a good starting point.

If you criticise the openly chaotic Lunar Empire you will be surprised at how many people jump on to defend them, even though the Lunar Empire is mostly portrayed as one of the bad guys.

Skipping over any US v. EU culture war bullshit (we Europeans are aware that the Lunars are the "designated baddies," we just find it interesting to give them motivations beyond "I am a baddie"), the Lunar Empire, like the Orlanthi barbarians, has a complex relationship with Chaos. Here's how it's introduced in the Guide to Glorantha:

Quote

The Lunar Empire is a theocratic empire which rules the many peoples of Peloria. Feared and hated by outsiders, it is probably one of the finest places to live. Tradition is appreciated and studied, but not slavishly adhered to. Opportunity abounds, and social and geographic mobility are widespread. Peace reigns – no wars have been fought here for over a hundred years. Government is stable and society content. The “infernal presence of Chaos” which terrorizes the outside world is carefully avoided by most citizens, and the “taint of evil” is never touched except on a voluntary basis. - Guide to Glorantha, volume 1, p.292

The Lunars know that Chaos is a dangerous thing, but they believe it can be useful if bound and used for civilised ends. Exhibit #1: the Crimson Bat. Exhibit #2: the Rune spell Chaos Gift. The leaders of the empire are Illuminated: by definition, they know as truth that Chaos is, in itself, neither evil nor inimical (Cults of Terror, p.86). Indeed, "Many in the Empire can balance the powers of Chaos with their responsibilities to the world" (Cults of Terror, p.87).

The Orlanthi believe Chaos is inherently evil. (This is, of course, factually incorrect: see above). In his noblest act, the storm god Orlanth accepted his personal responsibility for the devastation caused by Chaos in the Great Darkness, when his brother Ragnaglar, aided by his victim Thed (who Orlanth had denied justice), brought his nephew Wakboth the Devil into the world to bring about its destruction. In their Great Compromise, both Orlanth and Yelm agreed to make Entropy into one of the ruling principles of Glorantha (Time is the child of Arachne Solara and the Devil: the synthesis of Entropy and Existence).

Some Lunars find the Orlanthi terrifyingly slapdash in way they play around with things that might destabilise the Cosmos. They've broken everything before (and regretted it afterwards), and goodness knows some of their crazed extremists seem willing to break everything again. 

Some Orlanthi simple-mindedly assert that the Lunar Empire is "openly chaotic," although they know that at Castle Blue its Red Goddess proved herself to be a part of the world of Glorantha, included within their Great Compromise. Paraphrasing only slightly, it would appear that they intend to destroy the Great Compromise in order to save it. Those who learn nothing from mythology, it seems, are doomed to repeat it.

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4 hours ago, littlewitchmaus said:

it's easy to see ogres as simply irredeemable monsters, bereft of philosophy and somewhat cartoonish in the simplicity of their portrayals so this really enriches the very idea of them in glorantha.

Personally I think there's a couple different and interesting models for ogre communities, and oddly enough I was inspired by a game deeply openly in love with Glorantha: Elder Scrolls. The Daedric prince Boethiah - essentially a kind of chaos-tainted goddess - is the patron of deceit, conspiracy, and murder, and the daedra (chaos beasts) associated with her are called these horrible things called "Hungers", and that pretty much sums up her personality. She's about struggling to be the strongest by any means involving your hands (Mephala the Spinner is about secrets and poison and spider sort of things).

Ogres are about that hunger. They operate in secret because they have to, and they have families, but the ogres are better than everyone else. Everyone else is prey. The Cacodemon's lineage brings might and the strong need to find a way to control the weak, not just hunt them from the sidelines.

It takes real sophistication to hide in plain sight. It takes real genius to make pawns of the leadership.

Edited by Qizilbashwoman
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from my perspective there are different levels to explore

 

  • runes :

:20-power-movement: vs :20-power-stasis:

:20-power-disorder: vs :20-power-harmony:

:20-form-chaos: vs :20-rune-law:

that means for me that gloranthan chaos is not ambre chaos (how I like these books), Elric's chaos (how I like this character), D&D chaos (how I like runequest...). That is different.  Is chaos the source of all ? I m not sure because the cosmic dragon story (but i may have misunderstood this).

An interesting thing is we have mundane beings with chaos rune, like broos, but I don't know any mundane beings with law rune. is there any explanation ?

The only thing I find to explain it is chaos is "outside" glorantha, some alien thing. All the world is :20-rune-law:, what is not the world is :20-form-chaos:

In this case, the % :20-form-chaos: chaos you have is your level of alienitude: at 100% you are no more in glorantha, you may be like a black hole, you may be expulsed by the world it self, you may be destroyed, or you may be a god, I don't know

 

  • gods

I don't remember any chaotic god who is able to be a good guy (from a glorantha perspective). And the only "civilized / organized" chaotic gods I remember, are focused on society destruction. Not building another one, just destroy this one.

How can we explain that ? Probably because gods are very close to their rune, and their rune is the negation of the world.

 

  • people

so if you play a chaotic character, you play an alien, someone/thing identified by a large majority as the great Enemy,

because they don't understand you,

because a part of you is not from the world,

because you do thing not acceptable for them (be a prey is not acceptable, lose its soul is not acceptable, be forced to do some disgusting things is not acceptable),

because at the end of each age, chaos was near to destroy the world of the majority

 

You may do "good" thing (from the majority perspective) but a part of you is a danger.

Exactly the same than irl when you meet someone who wears and/or have behaviour you equate (not sure for this word)  with dangerous person.

Maybe the guy in the train with a flamethrower is a god guy, but probably you will not be very confortable.

 

 

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Chaos is a wrongness inside the cosmos, destroying what it consumes. Outside of the cosmos and in the process of creation, this dissolution is balanced with creation or overwhelmed by it. Inside the cosmos, unaccompanied by creation, Chaos carries a wrongness, a lack of purpose (other than annihilation) or future, of being.

Carrying the mark of chaos will draw the carrier towards annihilation or some other form of corruption.

The Telmori experience a total loss of control over their morals or their ability to discern between friend or foe during their involuntary transformations on Wilddays. This goes beyond their ancestral ties to Death, and it is something of a wonder that they don't mutilate their wolf companions when in that state.

That curse started out as a gift - immunity to normal weapons when in that man-wolf state, and the ability to slip into and out of that. They received that gift for being the spearhead of the Bright Empire's forces in the west, and receiving that gift made them even more so.

When Nysalor granted that gift, the Telmori were safe in his glow of enlightenment which mitigated the instinctive and visceral fear of Chaos or of unsupervised Creation.

Talor the Laughing Warrior had been on the losing side facing the Bright Empire and its Telmori forces, and he had experienced the horrors beyond the Gates of Banir and the Underworld. After Nysalor had been slain in the City of Miracles, Talor and Arkat both cast - or possibly transferred - great curses of Chaos towards the core lands of the Bright Empire, Dorastor, and towards its most stalwart warriors, the Telmori.

It isn't quite clear where these two heroes got that power from. Maybe what they did was demonizing their foes, a magical technique that may go back to Zzabur's wars against the Vadeli, maybe what they did was to separate themselves of a chaos curse they attracted in their career of fighting the Bright Empire and maintaining their existence in Hell, transferring that to their foes in an act of self-mutilation as much as of achieving a partial transcendence.

Talor's curse turned the Telmori gift into a bad thing, both for the Telmori themselves and for their allies and neighbors. They lost control over their shapechanging, and while involuntarily changing on Wilddays, they also lost any reason or restraint in that shape.

The Telmori had been Hsunchen, but Hsunchen on the cusp of some greater sophistication, similar to the Pendali Basmoli at the Dawn, with a temple city of their own. Like the Pendali cities, this city probably had been built by a subject culture, but Hsunchen empires lording over neolithic or even bronze-using farmers is nothing new in Glorantha, and wasn't at the Dawn either. The curse uttered by Talor destroyed any hopes of maintaining that kind of empire if the subjects were exposed to the savagery of the beast stage without any restraint. These subjects were the first to feel the consequences of the curse, and as a result the Telmori lost their secure base of power and income that had allowed them to serve as the shock troops of Nysalor's empire.

Foes of the Telmori see the chaos manifest as their inability to hurt Telmori in their savage man-beast stage with normal weapons. The Telmori themselves experience the chaos in their inability to maintain a domination over a subject population, usually pitting them into an involuntary permanent state of warfare or enforced isolation. Talor's curse has robbed them off that perspective and tradition.

Edited by Joerg
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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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3 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

...

The Lunars know that Chaos is a dangerous thing, but they believe it can be useful if bound and used for civilised ends. Exhibit #1: the Crimson Bat. Exhibit #2: the Rune spell Chaos Gift. The leaders of the empire are Illuminated: by definition, they know as truth that Chaos is, in itself, neither evil nor inimical (Cults of Terror, p.86). Indeed, "Many in the Empire can balance the powers of Chaos with their responsibilities to the world" (Cults of Terror, p.87).

...

The Lunar spell "Chaos Gift" is a perfect example of why Lunar philosophers are wrong about chaos.

Every time chaos gift is cast, there is a small chance that the recipient will receive two chaos features. But what if when they roll on those two chaos features, each separate feature doubles up again, so now they have four. Then if (this fantastic stroke of luck continues), they have 8, then 16, then 32, then 64, then 128, then 256, then 512, then 1024... 

After an extremely improbably (but not impossible) 64 doublings, the formerly ordinary person who cast a single chaos gift spell receives an incredible 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 chaos features. From a single casting of chaos gift, a new major chaos god has erupted into the world. Lets call this new god Wakboth. They have fifteen minutes to wrench the sun out of the sky, to stop time and prevent their chaos gift from expiring.

For this reason every casting of "Chaos Gift" could cause the end of the world. Obviously its incredibly unlikely any single casting would create such a catastrophe, but the very next casting could create a new god - there is a non zero probability.

Even if you don't get a new god, the odds of a casting producing a spectacular result are surprisingly high, given each reusable casting is a new chance to lock in a terrifying array of chaotic abilities. I suspect if we were to truly respect this game mechanic, every Lunar regiment should have a probability of someone who has the hidden ability to go full krjalki in a tense situation.

Edited by EricW
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15 hours ago, littlewitchmaus said:

so i'm curious- has anyone written any material from rhe perspective of folks who just happen to have born into association with chaos?

Sorry that so much type is being devoted to not answering your question, that is how we are around here. Ask a question and we will all ignore what you ask and riff on our own thoughts. Bear in mind I am not trying to escape guilt here, I did that exact same thing. Gads. Thankfully jajagappa will always come thorough with a great answer! soltakss might well as well. 

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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21 minutes ago, EricW said:

The Lunar spell "Chaos Gift" is a perfect example of why Lunar philosophers are wrong about chaos.

Every time chaos gift is cast, there is a small chance that the recipient will receive two chaos features.

Paranoid nonsense. Show me where on the current Chaotic Features table it says you can receive two chaos features.

(I'll admit the old table in the RQG Bestiary p.89 gave a 1% chance, but this is superseded by the revised chart in the Red Book of Magic p.25, which removed that result).

All Hail the Chaos-Taming Moon! 

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I think there is an implicit bias to the question, one that has been highlighted in the analysis of the US-European understandings by Eric.

Why do you think it a taint, rather than a blessing?

The Chaos-blessed know that the simplistic analysis of other cultures is limiting and unproductive.  Chaos offers the opportunity for fresh insights and developments with each Chaos Gift.  The Heortlings are particularly mendacious, denouncing cannibalism whilst celebrating Porscriptor the Cannibal as a tribal ancestor.  Ogres are people too!

(YGWV)😜

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29 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

I think there is an implicit bias to the question, one that has been highlighted in the analysis of the US-European understandings by Eric.

Why do you think it a taint, rather than a blessing?

The Chaos-blessed know that the simplistic analysis of other cultures is limiting and unproductive.  Chaos offers the opportunity for fresh insights and developments with each Chaos Gift.  The Heortlings are particularly mendacious, denouncing cannibalism whilst celebrating Porscriptor the Cannibal as a tribal ancestor.  Ogres are people too!

(YGWV)😜

I think there are some fascinating dynamics at work. Some people accept the right of authority to exist, but believe they have the absolute right to find loopholes in the rules. Other people grudgingly accept that some common rules are necessary, but do not accept that authority has an automatic right to exist - yet they are much more enthusiastic about upholding those mutually agreed rules they choose of their own free will to accept. And of course there are an infinite number of variations and alternatives.

Some of it is cultural, some of it personality. Sometimes people change their perspective when they see other cultures. Sometimes they carry their views with them, like a shield, refusing to bend to change circumstances.

I've lived in different countries, and associated with many different people, yet I doubt I have done more than scratch the surface. There are plenty of cultures I simply didn't get at all. 

The only common theme is almost everyone I met is convinced that their viewpoint is the right solution, no matter how different from everyone elses ideas ;-). 

Edited by EricW
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13 hours ago, Ludo Bagman said:

Actually there is one for Broos and for Ogres in Shadows on the Borderland (RQ3).

9 hours ago, jajagappa said:

A long time ago in the RQ3 days, there was a perspective of the Ogre Talons published in Shadows on the Borderlands.

You can find it through the Wayback Machine here:  https://web.archive.org/web/19981205172750/http://www.glorantha.com:80/library/priests/ogre.html

For some reason the Ogre, Broo texts and a few others were missing from the archive, I've corrected this:

  • Broo – What the Broo Shaman Says
  • Broo – What the Sword Broo Says
  • Ogre – Eat Your Enemy in Secret
  • Ogre – What My Father Taught Me

The updated zipped file is at the end of the list: What the Priests Say and What my Father told Me

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6 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I don't remember any chaotic god who is able to be a good guy (from a glorantha perspective). And the only "civilized / organized" chaotic gods I remember, are focused on society destruction. Not building another one, just destroy this one.

Sedenya?

Edited by simonh
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