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On Eurmal and Clowns


jajagappa

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Notes by Jeff posted on FB on Eurmal and Clowns.

The cult of Eurmal the Trickster is surprisingly important in Sartar. The Orlanthi hold that clowns and tricksters are essential in contact with the sacred. Laughter and humor are a part of every ceremony, even the most serious, because laughter opens and frees one from rigid preconception. Tricksters are needed in the most sacred ceremonies because the sacred comes through upset, reversal, and surprise. Orlanthi gods and heroes can be foolish in one tale and wise in the next, helpful and then villains.
This may be tough to grasp with our Western ethics and morality, but the Orlanthi are perhaps more open to life's multiplicity and paradoxes than we are. The sacred is both wondrous and terrible, and heroes like Arkat and Argrath represent both.
 
The Trickster as a cultural hero runs deep with the Orlanthi. Not just Eurmal, but Orlanth, Humakt, and all the Lightbringers have a touch of the Trickster. And that is perfectly accepted by the Orlanthi and held as an important part of their religious life. I think this gets easily missed by us Westerners who are often clueless to the nature of the sacred.
Eurmal is outside of all social conventions, including gender. Tricksters are known to deliberately defy and even mock such conventions - even in the most sacred rituals!
 
CLOWNS
A social oddity and convenience for the Orlanthi, Clowns are Tricksters and, as such, can get away with almost any social disruption and trouble because of the useful functions they provide through showing what is serious, absurd, baffling, or wrong, fearful or comical about life and the cosmos. The Orlanthi recognize this as powerful magic that both disrupts and helps to maintain the cosmos.
Another function of the Clown is that of public scapegoat, for whenever there is some official cause to find a person at fault the Clowns are the ones chosen. They may be outlawed, driven out of town, or (rarely) killed.
Until they are used as scapegoats, Clowns can violate sacred laws freely while they carry out their ritual roles. However, Clowns are required to dress in special costume to enjoy this protection. Some initiates paint their body with black and white stripes, cover themselves with mud or filth, wear false phalluses, or simply wear their clothing backwards and inside out.
Clowns sometimes appear—usually without invitation—at the ceremonies of other Orlanthi cults and mock them along with other attendees. At other public ceremonies, clowns may dance out of step, sing out of tune, and imitate cult and other societal leaders. They beg food, throw food away, or are gluttons. They even use magical regalia in inappropriate ways, engage in foolish, silly, or even obscene side-shows, often with respected members of the community.
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Just now, jajagappa said:

The Orlanthi hold that clowns and tricksters are essential in contact with the sacred. Laughter and humor are a part of every ceremony, even the most serious, because laughter opens and frees one from rigid preconception.

Interestingly, this was the approach to tricksters that I arrived at in my Imther campaign back in the 90's.  IMO it makes tricksters far more playable as characters than just the malicious figure that everyone wants to outlaw and kill.

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They’re all thieves and cause mindless property destruction if it amuses them.

I think of them as street hobos with dangerous magic. Barely tolerated, regarded with deep suspicion, but in Glorantha occasionally utterly essential, when normal paths to overcoming an enemy are closed.

I don’t think anyone would tolerate a large collection of tricksters under normal circumstances.

What if they manage a large enough worship group to count as a temple, giving them access to who knows how many dangerous trickster spells? Everyone remembers the infamous Sartar Teddybear Picnic.

Better to disperse them, by force, before there is any chance of that happening!

Edited by EricW
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57 minutes ago, EricW said:

They’re all thieves and cause mindless property destruction if it amuses them.

I think of them as street hobos with dangerous magic. Barely tolerated, regarded with deep suspicion, but in Glorantha occasionally utterly essential, when normal paths to overcoming an enemy are closed.

I don’t think anyone would tolerate a large collection of tricksters under normal circumstances.

What if they manage a large enough worship group to count as a temple, giving them access to who knows how many dangerous trickster spells? Everyone remembers the infamous Sartar Teddybear Picnic.

Better to disperse them, by force, before there is any chance of that happening!

I mean, Tricksters are kind of self-policing in the "don't let too many gather" thing, most of the time. There just plain aren't that many at one time in the first place, as it's hardly a role in life people aspire to and choose to take up. And by their very nature they aren't good at working together and forming groups with each other. So even if the Sartarites didn't generally try to ensure they don't have more Tricksters in their midst than they feel a need for to maintain the benefits of having them, you probably wouldn't get much cooperation between them, especially long-term.

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6 hours ago, Leingod said:

I mean, Tricksters are kind of self-policing in the "don't let too many gather" thing, most of the time. There just plain aren't that many at one time in the first place, as it's hardly a role in life people aspire to and choose to take up. And by their very nature they aren't good at working together and forming groups with each other. So even if the Sartarites didn't generally try to ensure they don't have more Tricksters in their midst than they feel a need for to maintain the benefits of having them, you probably wouldn't get much cooperation between them, especially long-term.

This brought up the image of Trickster gang fights in Boldhome. Cream pie drive-by attacks would be the the bare minimum of aggrievance I see. Illusonary things in the streets, stuff and people swallowed, ....

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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13 hours ago, Leingod said:

I mean, Tricksters are kind of self-policing in the "don't let too many gather" thing, most of the time. There just plain aren't that many at one time in the first place, as it's hardly a role in life people aspire to and choose to take up. And by their very nature they aren't good at working together and forming groups with each other. So even if the Sartarites didn't generally try to ensure they don't have more Tricksters in their midst than they feel a need for to maintain the benefits of having them, you probably wouldn't get much cooperation between them, especially long-term.

New Eurmal spell - the summoning of fun. Causes gold coins, food, images of attractive people to appear in front of tricksters over a large geographical area, leading the tricksters to converge on the caster, where they scream at each other, complain, steal and fight until Eurmal appears.

Naturally any non tricksters who catch on to what is happening attempt to break up the gathering before it reaches its terrifying finale.

Edited by EricW
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