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Hero Diplomacies


jenh

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As someone who doesn't find much interesting in people hitting each other, and who is disappointed that so much of the use of myth and magic in Glorantha appears to be as a means to hit people more effectively, I am considering one of two changes for my next Glorantha game:

  1. The Dragonrise is sufficiently damaging to the Lunar Empire that they give up on military activity in the region, retreating to hold Tarsh but not expanding. And on the other side, there is little will and too few people for the fight to be taken to them on any significant scale. Both of those will change over time, but that's a matter of a decade or more.
  2. The Dragonrise, perhaps plus associated heroquesting, leads to a fundamental change in the underlying nature of the gods and world. Orlanth's "violence is always an option" is replaced by "violence is never an option".

Both of these have the effect that everyone is left trying to figure out how this whole diplomacy thing works. How might goals be met when hitting someone isn't possible, where magic has to do something other than blast people, and heroquesting's revelations don't boil down to bringing in someone or something else who is really good at hitting people.

The advantage - and difficulty - of the second approach is that it raises a lot of questions about how societies will adapt to the new circumstances, which I think would be fun to explore. The first option does allow for those who aren't maniacs to tell Argrath to play quietly with his toys in the corner while the adults talk, which is definitely appealing.

For those (likely very few) among you who would not balk at both of these premises, which would you prefer and why?

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Why not both simultaneously?

Talk elsewhere about the old board game mechanics has me thinking about that layer of the lore . . . and it strikes me that the emissary system may be the seed of something exciting for you. As it turns out, while the hero wars revolve around the clash of heroes and armies, the major combatants recognize that they don't have enough heroes or armies to achieve victory on their own. They need to identify and court allies among the various independent weirdos of the region and beyond.

We need to figure out who we can work with and what they want. Some of these relationships may be opportunistic or transactional. Others may become something larger and in that process provide you with the kind of story that you are eager to see. 

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4 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

We need to figure out who we can work with and what they want. Some of these relationships may be opportunistic or transactional. Others may become something larger and in that process provide you with the kind of story that you are eager to see. 

Yes, that is certainly a large part of what such a game would entail - whether it's part of building up an alliance for some distant future war (meh, and option 2 precludes that) or as a recognition that there are thoughts, things, and people of value outside one's own group that can't be taken but must be given.

How does an Orlanth worshipper who sees the very presence of the Red Moon in the sky as a wrongness, or at best a challenge to Orlanth's status, talk with a Lunar? Or do they refuse to, and a cold war develops, with communication happening between the less fervent, and largely in secret? What paths are there, both mythological and mundane, that can change this new stalemate when "Orlanth is dead" and "the Red Moon is torn apart" are no longer options?

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15 minutes ago, jenh said:

communication

I am slowly working up an Issaries Hero War so this is definitely relevant to my interests. Funny how quiet Etyries seems to be, despite allegedly being a major third age cult and a pillar of the empire, at least historically. Wonder what they're doing.

Then you have true pacifists, your option 2. Sisters of Mercy, etc. A lot of strange people skirt the edges of the more combat-oriented hero war and maybe end up far from the known narrative. Maybe they're actually going where the real action is!

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1 hour ago, jenh said:

The Dragonrise is sufficiently damaging to the Lunar Empire that they give up on military activity in the region, retreating to hold Tarsh but not expanding. And on the other side, there is little will and too few people for the fight to be taken to them on any significant scale. Both of those will change over time, but that's a matter of a decade or more.

It doesn’t even have to be that neither part wants to fight - maybe they’re both quite ready to continue (the uncompromising fanatics especially), but the PCs are the ones who attempt find the Other Way? This kind of thing shouldn’t be easy - quite the opposite - but that’s what adventuring is about. And you don’t have to be nice because it’s peace, either. Diplomatic missions, information gathering, actually keeping the peace when there are hotheads all around, heroquesting… there are all kinds of things you can do.

(If I ever GM:d a full Argrath-based Hero Wars campaign, I would all but expect the PCs to at some point go “enough with this carnage, how can we get peace?”)
 

1 hour ago, jenh said:

The Dragonrise, perhaps plus associated heroquesting, leads to a fundamental change in the underlying nature of the gods and world. Orlanth's "violence is always an option" is replaced by "violence is never an option".

This is a lot trickier - it only takes one side to start a war or launch a raid. If Violence Is Never An Option to Orlanthi, what do you do do when Praxians come to take your stuff, Lunars to enslave you, or Trolls to eat you? Glorantha can be a harsh place, and people with power and military capital will be only too eager to wield it, especially against people who won’t fight back (you can go the Oasis Folk route and just surrender, but that doesn’t seem like something anyone would prefer given options). But peace might be possible even if violence is an option - after all, that’s how the real world works. 
 

If you’re not locked into RQ, HeroQuest/QuestWorlds puts far less rules focus on the combat, too, while supporting formal resolution of non-combat conflicts more strongly.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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Yet another option might be to put only the PCs into mandated peacefulness (better get player buy-in first!). In some magical event, they get tasked with non-violence but also magical-social protection against violence (much like Chalana Arroy cultists). This is probably granted by someone who wants something from them, so once more, it’s an adventuring set-up. A bunch of youngsters emerge from their adulthood initiations with a completely non-standard experience as something calls on them to bring the Hero Peaces? Hand out various peace and harmony spells like they were candy!

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#1 is extremely believable.  Argrath, or maybe even Leika, becomes Prince of Sartar, and there ensues 20+ years of relative peace with the Lunar Empire.  Could be a "Cold War" type of feel?  Occasional violence, trade, gathering intel, diplomacy, "containment", etc.  Frankly, I think our campaign will tend that way.  We don't mind violence, yet the canonical events of the later parts of the Hero Wars are hard to stomach.

#2 first sentence is fine.  The Dragonrise, and the rise of Draconic energies, leads to a fundamental change in something.  Mandating peace seems heavy handed to me, so I'd tend towards something else.  Your group may vary.

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Part of my fondness for option 2 is that it avoids the situation in which the PCs and some of the NPCs are all for dealing with issues without violence, but the rest of the world remains all about hitting people - and so I am torn between my three desires: to simulate the world in a way that makes sense to me; to have the PCs as significant figures in the region's politics; and to not have people hitting each other be a significant element of the world. Any two of those together are easy to achieve, but the three together are another matter.

When I said that "violence is never an option", that wasn't meant to be specifically a constraint only on Orlanthi, though of course that is the expression's context, but rather a general statement of the new truth. I guess it might be interesting if it was slightly more limited: perhaps that Orlanthi could neither engage, nor be engaged, in violence, but everyone else could go for it. That might just lead to me or the players wanting to pick at the edges of that, though, which would just be putting violence back on the table.

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8 hours ago, jenh said:

As someone who doesn't find much interesting in people hitting each other, and who is disappointed that so much of the use of myth and magic in Glorantha appears to be as a means to hit people more effectively, I am considering one of two changes for my next Glorantha game:

To quote the Great Man himself, "the most mundane aspect of magic"!

 

8 hours ago, jenh said:
  1. The Dragonrise is sufficiently damaging to the Lunar Empire that they give up on military activity in the region, retreating to hold Tarsh but not expanding. And on the other side, there is little will and too few people for the fight to be taken to them on any significant scale. Both of those will change over time, but that's a matter of a decade or more.
  2. The Dragonrise, perhaps plus associated heroquesting, leads to a fundamental change in the underlying nature of the gods and world. Orlanth's "violence is always an option" is replaced by "violence is never an option".

Or to try to join the dots a little between the two...

Jar-Eel is reputedly the Harmony "superhero", a one-off demigod embodying that particular Rune at eye-watering power levels.  Maybe her actions bring about a situation on these lines.  Maybe on their own account.  Or in the context of the Lunar We Are All Us philosophy, and craftily redefining "Us" on the fly -- one take on a "Temple of the Reaching Moon", at least!  Or a sneaky wee side-deal with the Brown Dragon, or due to the Total Perspective Vortex having been dropped in from a great height...

So perhaps that doesn't entirely preclude violence, but maybe makes it more difficult, and more immediate counter-productive, and self-and mutually destructive?  If it hurts and it's clearly zero sum, people will stop doing it.  Or do it less, at least!

 

8 hours ago, jenh said:

Both of these have the effect that everyone is left trying to figure out how this whole diplomacy thing works.

You might want to have at least a "tasting menu" in mind as to how it might, mind you!  You likely don't want players to spend the game in general confusion, or to feel there's no particular urgency to do anything much at all.  Is the diplomacy a single strand of negotiating peace with the "enemy" as a block?  Is there scope to pick different factions apart with a view to realigning new common interests?  Is third-party diplomacy an option?  Are there any workable options that aren't diplomacy at all?  Even if it's heroquesting to reverse the original premise, that might be something that's potentially interesting to explore the outworkings of, and isn't violence per se.

 

8 hours ago, jenh said:

The advantage - and difficulty - of the second approach is that it raises a lot of questions about how societies will adapt to the new circumstances, which I think would be fun to explore. The first option does allow for those who aren't maniacs to tell Argrath to play quietly with his toys in the corner while the adults talk, which is definitely appealing.

I wondered while reading this who the PCs actually were -- by implication it's the Sartarite side (or its allies).  If part of your frustration is with the Orlanthi...  freeform approach to violence, might the Lunars work better?  OK, they're violent too (and imperialists to boot), but at least a) have a plan regarding that, and b) might plan to have a different plan.  Or if you're feeling especially ambitious, a mix of the two?  And what sort of 'level' of character had you in mind?  Are they movers and shakers in this, or are they exploring the edges of the consequences of it?

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5 hours ago, jenh said:

The Dragonrise, perhaps plus associated heroquesting, leads to a fundamental change in the underlying nature of the gods and world. Orlanth's "violence is always an option" is replaced by "violence is never an option".

Not sure why anyone would have any objections to this: YGWV and all that. And it's not if there aren't a whole range of continent or cube-spanning plots going on in the Hero Wars or before (e.g. The Closing). It's an interesting thought experiment at least and could be a fun campaign if structured well.

So, some questions to ask and answer for this option: 

  1. Who did it? Was it the Brown Dragon? Or was it an Ernaldan conspiracy or the Esrolian Grandmothers or some fanatical Chalana Arroy? Perhaps it was Yelmites who are reimposing the Golden Age where every one obeyed Yelm and there was no war. We've got the Kingdom of War, perhaps its the Empire of Peace? It could be a descendant of Sartar and their followers who was never big on violence and they re-lighted Sartar's Flame and imposed peace on the Principality of Sartar as a Household of Harmony (as opposed to the clearly wrong direction that the Household of Death took). The harmony doesn't extend outside the borders, but as soon as you enter Sartar, violence is no longer an option. White Moonies who see it as the first step to bring about the harmony of the Goddess and the White Moon and who were leading Tatius by the nose all along. 
  2. Why did they do it? And did it go how they planned?
  3. How far does it extend? Just Sartar or Dragon Pass or Genertela or the whole cube?
  4. Who is going to try and reverse it? Sort of depends on who did it? 
  5. How far does it go down? Is it just War that's forbidden? Or does it apply to individuals as well and I can't spank my child even. Can I kill the rat eating my wheat? Or are we all compulsory Jainists.
  6. Does mind control count as violence? Looking at you, White Moonies 🙂. Is spreading my trees into your fields violence? Looking at you Aldryami!
  7. Where is it leading? What's the endgame? Of course the PCs will probably put the kibosh on whatever that is, but it's good to start with a destination, even if you know that you will never get there.
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13 hours ago, scott-martin said:

I am slowly working up an Issaries Hero War so this is definitely relevant to my interests. Funny how quiet Etyries seems to be, despite allegedly being a major third age cult and a pillar of the empire, at least historically. Wonder what they're doing.

Trickster hero war? Now that would be strange.

They could deploy “Eurmal’s Harmony” to keep the peace.

Eurmal’s Harmony causes everyone at the meeting to talk over each other, and leave the meeting convinced that everyone else fully agreed with their position 

Obviously this could lead to some confusion, but if the harmony spell was cast at every meeting, everyone would always be convinced the peace negotiations resolved all differences.

So all you need is a trickster with an endless supply of harmony, then no more war.

Edited by EricW
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15 hours ago, jenh said:

Both of these have the effect that everyone is left trying to figure out how this whole diplomacy thing works. How might goals be met when hitting someone isn't possible, where magic has to do something other than blast people, and heroquesting's revelations don't boil down to bringing in someone or something else who is really good at hitting people.

Assuming armies of any size are 'off the table', there are still a number of options.

For example, most clans are reasonably skilled at laying down curses to destroy the fertility of other people's land, and are able to offer some defense against such attacks.  Starvation is a potent weapon, and can lead to the starving people being absorbed into another clan as thralls or cottars.

Then there is the trickster option.  Imagine a trickster who knows the maxim that the best lies are mainly true.  Now imagine a lie spell being used to convince a clan ring to act against their clan's best interests by such a lie.  It is distinctly likely that they would never admit they had been duped.  This is the art practiced by con artists, wherein they get away with things because the victim doesn't want to lose face publicly by admitting what they got into.  It always works better if the victim is implicated in corruption by their actions.

There are a number of ways that assassination can be performed entirely by magic, so that isn't ruled out.

Theft by stealth remains an option too.

There are a number of position plays that can be used by a cartel to surround and cut off some groups  in a "go" (Chinese game) fashion in order to subordinate them.

Obviously getting people into trade debts can become a powerful form of leverage.

On the other hand, the most likely response is not what you think.  When people have their liberty curtailed they want to know why.  The heroes of the world will inevitably hero quest to demolish the artificial peace.  There are simply too many skeins of fate coming to a knot during the Hero Wars to be cut off.  The first group who figures out how to end the peace will have a huge advantage and will rapidly wipe the floor with the other side for quite a while.  That advantage alone makes it super-attractive; the war mongers are inevitably going to win this situation, it is only a question of when.

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11 hours ago, Alex said:

Jar-Eel is reputedly the Harmony "superhero", a one-off demigod embodying that particular Rune at eye-watering power levels.  Maybe her actions bring about a situation on these lines.  Maybe on their own account.  Or in the context of the Lunar We Are All Us philosophy, and craftily redefining "Us" on the fly -- one take on a "Temple of the Reaching Moon", at least!  Or a sneaky wee side-deal with the Brown Dragon, or due to the Total Perspective Vortex having been dropped in from a great height...

This is a really good point - an avatar of Harmony is bound to be mixed up in the change (and what comes after). Thanks!

11 hours ago, Alex said:

You might want to have at least a "tasting menu" in mind as to how it might, mind you!  You likely don't want players to spend the game in general confusion, or to feel there's no particular urgency to do anything much at all.  Is the diplomacy a single strand of negotiating peace with the "enemy" as a block?  Is there scope to pick different factions apart with a view to realigning new common interests?  Is third-party diplomacy an option?  Are there any workable options that aren't diplomacy at all?  Even if it's heroquesting to reverse the original premise, that might be something that's potentially interesting to explore the outworkings of, and isn't violence per se.

I'm not really concerned about my players - I think they're at least a little used to my style after years together. I'm fascinated by what others might do with either premise, and which is preferred.

It would be interesting to play out an attempt to heroquest back to the former state - there's always going to be some situations in which a small group makes life disproportionately difficult for others and seemingly cannot be negotiated with, at which point smacking some sense into them seems the best option.

I certainly wouldn't have a single strand of negotiation; one of the things that would be interesting to see play out is the waves of fragmentation and cohering that occur at every societal level. What do you do with Storm Bull followers in your community after this change? For that matter, what do Storm Bull followers do? Will people move about more, try to form new communities (presumably yes to some extent; I imagine a Glorantha without war would have a population explosion given how frequently they were killing each other)? What sorts of intermingling will be tried, and what might the results be?

11 hours ago, Alex said:

I wondered while reading this who the PCs actually were -- by implication it's the Sartarite side (or its allies).  If part of your frustration is with the Orlanthi...  freeform approach to violence, might the Lunars work better?  OK, they're violent too (and imperialists to boot), but at least a) have a plan regarding that, and b) might plan to have a different plan.  Or if you're feeling especially ambitious, a mix of the two?  And what sort of 'level' of character had you in mind?  Are they movers and shakers in this, or are they exploring the edges of the consequences of it?

The Lunars more orderly killing is still violence, so it's not a matter of which side. A mix of Lunar and Orlanthi would be interesting; I'd likely encourage that, because it brings those elements of "how do we get along?" within the party. Since it's pretty easy to have non-violent games with people who aren't operating at a high level (so that background violent events don't impinge on them much), the PCs would definitely be figures of importance: those who have a major role in going out and interacting with people from multiple communities.

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10 hours ago, Martin Dick said:

Not sure why anyone would have any objections to this: YGWV and all that.

Less objecting and more just not interested in the premise. Redundant for me to say that people who aren't interested in non-violent games won't have an opinion on which non-violent premise they'd prefer, though.

10 hours ago, Martin Dick said:
  1. Who did it? Was it the Brown Dragon? Or was it an Ernaldan conspiracy or the Esrolian Grandmothers or some fanatical Chalana Arroy? Perhaps it was Yelmites who are reimposing the Golden Age where every one obeyed Yelm and there was no war. We've got the Kingdom of War, perhaps its the Empire of Peace? It could be a descendant of Sartar and their followers who was never big on violence and they re-lighted Sartar's Flame and imposed peace on the Principality of Sartar as a Household of Harmony (as opposed to the clearly wrong direction that the Household of Death took). The harmony doesn't extend outside the borders, but as soon as you enter Sartar, violence is no longer an option. White Moonies who see it as the first step to bring about the harmony of the Goddess and the White Moon and who were leading Tatius by the nose all along.

I like all of these options! Which says to me that it's all of them at once, each independtly acting to create something that comes together in a single event.

10 hours ago, Martin Dick said:
  1. How far does it extend? Just Sartar or Dragon Pass or Genertela or the whole cube?

I'd likely choose the cube. Not because I'd feel comfortable running a cube-spanning game (I don't think I would), but because I'd want violence to be unavailable everywhere the PCs can see or hear about.

10 hours ago, Martin Dick said:
  1. How far does it go down? Is it just War that's forbidden? Or does it apply to individuals as well and I can't spank my child even. Can I kill the rat eating my wheat? Or are we all compulsory Jainists.
  2. Does mind control count as violence? Looking at you, White Moonies 🙂. Is spreading my trees into your fields violence? Looking at you Aldryami!

Indeed, these are the tricky questions that are going to be difficult to answer. To some extent the recent discussion about the strictures on Chalana Arroy devotees is relevant here also. Further, I'd both make a distinction between force and violence, and consider what it is that the various cultures considered violence (since the Orlanthi at least had to have some idea what their own saying meant).

I think in play there'd be a fine line between an interesting exploration of the large and small ways interactions would change, and unfun (for me) picking at edge cases.

10 hours ago, Martin Dick said:
  1. Where is it leading? What's the endgame? Of course the PCs will probably put the kibosh on whatever that is, but it's good to start with a destination, even if you know that you will never get there.

I might pick Tarsh as a suitable place for embodying the thorny issue of different peoples being able to say "this is our place". Finding some form of reconciliation there, a place for the exiles and the Lunars, etc, would I think require some clever thinking and creative heroquesting on the part of the PCs.

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8 hours ago, Darius West said:

On the other hand, the most likely response is not what you think.  When people have their liberty curtailed they want to know why.  The heroes of the world will inevitably hero quest to demolish the artificial peace.  There are simply too many skeins of fate coming to a knot during the Hero Wars to be cut off.  The first group who figures out how to end the peace will have a huge advantage and will rapidly wipe the floor with the other side for quite a while.  That advantage alone makes it super-attractive; the war mongers are inevitably going to win this situation, it is only a question of when.

I'm with you up until here. I'm very comfortable saying that, in fact, the Hero Wars can be cut off. I said earlier that it might be interesting to see attempted heroquests to undo the change. I mean this as a way to shine light on how difficult some will find the new state, not as some inevitable undermining of the entire premise.

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8 minutes ago, jenh said:

I'm with you up until here. I'm very comfortable saying that, in fact, the Hero Wars can be cut off. I said earlier that it might be interesting to see attempted heroquests to undo the change. I mean this as a way to shine light on how difficult some will find the new state, not as some inevitable undermining of the entire premise.

Disagree, I'm with @Darius West on this one.  Forcing a fundamental change on human nature, and expecting no counter reaction, seems artificial to me.

We ran a long campaign, based on a Torchwood TV season, that started when over zealous Chalana Arroy questers had bound Humakt and eliminated Death.  It quickly became apparent that this was a terrible mistake, and needed to be undone.

It would be fun and interesting for your campaign to explore whether eliminating violence is a "good idea".  I can see a lot of drawbacks.

 

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28 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Disagree, I'm with @Darius West on this one.  Forcing a fundamental change on human nature, and expecting no counter reaction, seems artificial to me.

We ran a long campaign, based on a Torchwood TV season, that started when over zealous Chalana Arroy questers had bound Humakt and eliminated Death.  It quickly became apparent that this was a terrible mistake, and needed to be undone.

It would be fun and interesting for your campaign to explore whether eliminating violence is a "good idea".  I can see a lot of drawbacks.

It's not the counter reaction that bothers me - it's the idea that it will be inevitably successful and that that success should be part of the game. Undermining the premise of a game is generally not a good idea - the same would be true if the premise was "the PCs are all mercenaries and we follow their exploits in war" and a short while later peace is declared and the mercenaries have no employers.

I expect that there will be any number of occasions where violence would seem like an effective, quick, and easy solution to a problem, and PCs and NPCs alike will curse the fact that it's not available to them. They may well conclude that violence being eliminated was a terrible idea - and this being Glorantha they can go and argue their case before bereaved family and friends, the maimed, the traumatised, and the spirits of the violently killed. Sounds good to me.

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2 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Disagree, I'm with @Darius West on this one.  Forcing a fundamental change on human nature, and expecting no counter reaction, seems artificial to me.

I'm not sure "forcing a fundamental change on human nature" is a fair upsum, especially as the idea was phrased fairly generally, and could take any number of forms.  It might simply be a change in human circumstances, albeit a fairly profound one.

 

2 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

We ran a long campaign, based on a Torchwood TV season, that started when over zealous Chalana Arroy questers had bound Humakt and eliminated Death.  It quickly became apparent that this was a terrible mistake, and needed to be undone.

I agree that that series of Touchwood was a terrible, terrible mistake, but I've subsequently reconciled myself to never getting those ten hours of my life back.  (Ten!  One story idea stretched tortuously out to ten eps!  From a franchise that's notorious for hastily wrapping up promising ones in 45-60m!)  Which isn't to say it couldn't have worked as a premise, and I trust your game did!

 

4 hours ago, jenh said:

I like all of these options! Which says to me that it's all of them at once, each independtly acting to create something that comes together in a single event.

That's potentially very cool -- I Accommodated, We Won! -- but it might be worth unpacking to some degree if you're interested in exploring how it might be rolled back, extended, or interacted with in general.

 

4 hours ago, jenh said:

I'd likely choose the cube. Not because I'd feel comfortable running a cube-spanning game (I don't think I would), but because I'd want violence to be unavailable everywhere the PCs can see or hear about.

If it's Cubical that certainly avoids the players attempting an end-run on the premise, but you don't seem to have that as a concern anyway.  But it rather weakens the idea of it being an Orlanth myth-edit, as originally framed.

 

3 hours ago, jenh said:

I'm with you up until here. I'm very comfortable saying that, in fact, the Hero Wars can be cut off. I said earlier that it might be interesting to see attempted heroquests to undo the change. I mean this as a way to shine light on how difficult some will find the new state, not as some inevitable undermining of the entire premise.

Or conversely if you want to roll the starting premise back a little, they might be participating in heroquesting to make the change in the first place, depending on how you (and of course they) see the most investing role for the PCs.

 

4 hours ago, jenh said:

Indeed, these are the tricky questions that are going to be difficult to answer. To some extent the recent discussion about the strictures on Chalana Arroy devotees is relevant here also. Further, I'd both make a distinction between force and violence, and consider what it is that the various cultures considered violence (since the Orlanthi at least had to have some idea what their own saying meant).

My guess is that "violence" for the Orlanthi -- in particular the "optional violence" of the aphorism -- doesn't involve things that are on the one hand more normalised (like herding and hunting animals, and the fact of Death and conflict in the abstract), and probably not to immediate self-defence.  Nor of things that are less normalised on the other -- kinstrife, secret murder, infliction of chaos, deliberate spreading of disease.  Even CAs, who won't kill an animal or use the proceeds of others doing so, are down with Sleeping a sentient chaote and then allowing it to be be killed.

Of course if we were to get into Orlanthi Oral-lore Originalism, you could start unpicking what "Always" and "Never" mean for them -- 85% of the time and 15% of the time, reputedly!

 

4 hours ago, jenh said:

I might pick Tarsh as a suitable place for embodying the thorny issue of different peoples being able to say "this is our place". Finding some form of reconciliation there, a place for the exiles and the Lunars, etc, would I think require some clever thinking and creative heroquesting on the part of the PCs.

Esrolia might also be an interesting option.  It doesn't have the Occupation dynamic, but the actively pro-Lunar faction was very active, and likely still is to an extent even post-DR.  And it's the proverbial Homeland of "there is always another way".  The anti-Lunars may be in the ascendancy at time of campaign start, but don't bet against that being overtaken by anti-Argrath sentiment quickly enough.  Just ask them what they think of the Henriki, for example, but be warned, they might just tell you...

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6 hours ago, jenh said:

This is a really good point - an avatar of Harmony is bound to be mixed up in the change (and what comes after). Thanks!

You're welcome!  Clear credit to Sandy Petersen here, as I was nicking this account of her straight from him Kraken talk...  (Of course to continue the Dragon Pass supes theme, there's two more shoes to drop:  Harrek (Death) and Androgeus (Change? Water?).

 

6 hours ago, jenh said:

I'm not really concerned about my players - I think they're at least a little used to my style after years together. I'm fascinated by what others might do with either premise, and which is preferred.

Oh, I assumed you were mostly looking to pick our brains for ideas, and that the "you won't be interested, but" opening was just a sensible screening tactic. 🙂  You might have to police the thread a little according to whether it's going where's useful to you...

 

6 hours ago, jenh said:

It would be interesting to play out an attempt to heroquest back to the former state - there's always going to be some situations in which a small group makes life disproportionately difficult for others and seemingly cannot be negotiated with, at which point smacking some sense into them seems the best option.

Or HQing to get to a "third way" one, or for case-by-case exceptions.  Or conversely, it transpires there too many loopholes already -- if not the PCs, then some nefarious NPCs try some of the tactics suggested by the fine people in this thread, and the PCs decide they need to go have a word with the White Moonies, the Kralori Chief Mourners for the Outside World, the Brown Dragon, etc, about closing them.

 

6 hours ago, jenh said:

I certainly wouldn't have a single strand of negotiation; one of the things that would be interesting to see play out is the waves of fragmentation and cohering that occur at every societal level. What do you do with Storm Bull followers in your community after this change? For that matter, what do Storm Bull followers do? Will people move about more, try to form new communities (presumably yes to some extent; I imagine a Glorantha without war would have a population explosion given how frequently they were killing each other)? What sorts of intermingling will be tried, and what might the results be?

Uroxi might still have a place, as you could argue that (overt, manifest) chaos is a different case.  I'd certainly imagine that chaos will be acting on the basis that it is...  But Humakti are even more shafted...  I doubt the population effect would be that large.  OK, things like the Gbaji Wars were pretty like the Black Death in that regard, but in near-modern Sartar all that cattle-raiding likely added more years of live by way of cardio-vascular fitness than it subtracted via actual deaths.

 

6 hours ago, jenh said:

The Lunars more orderly killing is still violence, so it's not a matter of which side. A mix of Lunar and Orlanthi would be interesting; I'd likely encourage that, because it brings those elements of "how do we get along?" within the party. Since it's pretty easy to have non-violent games with people who aren't operating at a high level (so that background violent events don't impinge on them much), the PCs would definitely be figures of importance: those who have a major role in going out and interacting with people from multiple communities.

I was wondering if they were of such importance if they were from different clans, tribes, or indeed even homelands, and acting as sorts of delegates from each.  Like a Sartar High Council game on steroids...

 

 

14 hours ago, Darius West said:

There are a number of ways that assassination can be performed entirely by magic, so that isn't ruled out.

I'd have thought it would be the very first thing that it'd rule out!  Magic-on-magic crime, in some sense the easiest of all.  Who has the more magic points (or affinity-masteries, or spell levels, your game system will varies), you or the Esrolian Grandmothers?

 

14 hours ago, Darius West said:

Obviously getting people into trade debts can become a powerful form of leverage.

Though moreso if you were planning on enforcing them by means of violence, which is the starting baseline.  (At the risk of sounding a little bit Proudhonist.)

 

14 hours ago, Darius West said:

On the other hand, the most likely response is not what you think.  When people have their liberty curtailed they want to know why.  The heroes of the world will inevitably hero quest to demolish the artificial peace.  There are simply too many skeins of fate coming to a knot during the Hero Wars to be cut off.  The first group who figures out how to end the peace will have a huge advantage and will rapidly wipe the floor with the other side for quite a while.  That advantage alone makes it super-attractive; the war mongers are inevitably going to win this situation, it is only a question of when.

Why's it necessarily artificial?  OK, I think I'd maybe personally want to make the buy-in more explicit and set-up a little more elaborate than implied by the OP, but is the collective will of Gloranthan sentients tilted inevitably in favour of mass destruction rather than peaceful co-existence?  That the collective consciousness is magically manifestable means that we're not necessarily limited to Nash equilibria determined by the basest possible instinct.

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17 hours ago, Martin Dick said:

Who did it? Was it the Brown Dragon? Or was it an Ernaldan conspiracy or the Esrolian Grandmothers or some fanatical Chalana Arroy? Perhaps it was Yelmites who are reimposing the Golden Age where every one obeyed Yelm and there was no war. We've got the Kingdom of War, perhaps its the Empire of Peace? It could be a descendant of Sartar and their followers who was never big on violence and they re-lighted Sartar's Flame and imposed peace on the Principality of Sartar as a Household of Harmony (as opposed to the clearly wrong direction that the Household of Death took). The harmony doesn't extend outside the borders, but as soon as you enter Sartar, violence is no longer an option. White Moonies who see it as the first step to bring about the harmony of the Goddess and the White Moon and who were leading Tatius by the nose all along. 

I think the shades -- or blends on the palette, perhaps -- of this are key.  I'd want to tease this out, to give it a mythic/magical arc as to why it's happening, a handle on how it works when it does, and where it might go next.

The Golden Age idea is one that came into my mind.  Like Darth Plagueis's plan, reversing gently backwards into it banishes Death!  But not violence or conflict.  To entirely do that, you'd have to go all the way back to the Green Age, at which point you've essentially also got rid of individual consciousness and identity.  Probably also a tad hard.  But perhaps on the one hand, you can overlay the present with parts of each of those, and perhaps also you need to work backwards through the Ages to do it.

 

17 hours ago, Martin Dick said:

Where is it leading? What's the endgame? Of course the PCs will probably put the kibosh on whatever that is, but it's good to start with a destination, even if you know that you will never get there.

The other thing that's key for me, and I think also unclear from the OP, is what the PC role and motivations are.  The risk is that they're just left in sandbox mode Glorantha, and they have nothing particular of any significance to do.  What's the impetus for diplomacy when peace is magically guaranteed anyway?  Optimising trade deals?  @jenh I take it on faith knows her own table, but if this were my pitch, or if someone were pitching it at me, I'd want a lot more structure about what the baseline activities and overall arc might be.

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7 hours ago, jenh said:

Undermining the premise of a game is generally not a good idea - the same would be true if the premise was "the PCs are all mercenaries and we follow their exploits in war" and a short while later peace is declared and the mercenaries have no employers.

Glen Cook and Xenophon beg to differ.  I think that would be a wonderful premise for a campaign.

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3 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Glen Cook and Xenophon beg to differ.  I think that would be a wonderful premise for a campaign.

You're missing the point. If you recruit players for a game about mercenaries at war, they are within their rights to be pissed off if it turns out you're really interested in peacetime activities and have no intention of running any battle scenes etc. Classic bait & switch, never recommended.

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8 hours ago, Alex said:

I'd have thought it would be the very first thing that it'd rule out!  Magic-on-magic crime, in some sense the easiest of all.  Who has the more magic points (or affinity-masteries, or spell levels, your game system will varies), you or the Esrolian Grandmothers?

Magical assassinations have the extra advantage that someone else may well take the blame for the act.  Assassination is not war, it is the removal of a single person by murder.  As to Esrolian grandmothers having more affinities, well, really?  You get a lot more power through a successful adventure than you do by taking the slow path of sitting in a temple praying all day.  The other thing is that sitting in a temple all day leads to a certain systemic and predictable way of thinking that makes you a weaker opponent.  Status quo thinking always loses.

8 hours ago, Alex said:

Though moreso if you were planning on enforcing them by means of violence, which is the starting baseline.  (At the risk of sounding a little bit Proudhonist.)

Having someone default on their debt makes them publically disgraced.  Nobody else will want to trade with them as they can't be trusted.  And, if they can't be trusted as traders, they can't be trusted as allies.  There is no need to use force to destroy an organization that is unable to meet its debts.  Debt is quite capable of destroying an empire, let alone a less large and robust aggregation of power.

8 hours ago, Alex said:

Why's it necessarily artificial?  OK, I think I'd maybe personally want to make the buy-in more explicit and set-up a little more elaborate than implied by the OP, but is the collective will of Gloranthan sentients tilted inevitably in favour of mass destruction rather than peaceful co-existence?  That the collective consciousness is magically manifestable means that we're not necessarily limited to Nash equilibria determined by the basest possible instinct.

It is absolutely artificial because the natural tendencies of matter don't suddenly stop people from hitting each other.  Also, what happens to all the war gods?  Do they just STFU all of a sudden?  Every time humanity pushes the gods, they wake up and push back, and humanity never wins.  What makes you think that a sudden peace craze would be any different?  The seeds of every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  Also, just because the Lunar Empire and Sartar opt for peace doesn't mean their neighbors do.  The Lunars will be ripped apart by the Pentians, the Kingdom of War and every sub-faction within the empire that still thinks war is an option.  As for Sartar, well it becomes Praxian or another occupied kingdom of the Westerners.  Peace only works if everyone chooses it and that won't happen when there are so many war gods.

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8 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

You're missing the point. If you recruit players for a game about mercenaries at war, they are within their rights to be pissed off if it turns out you're really interested in peacetime activities and have no intention of running any battle scenes etc. Classic bait & switch, never recommended.

I agree that, in general, any "switch" should come only after considerable time going with the original "bait".  No argument there.

The basis of this thread is that @jenh   is considering non-violent Hero Wars.  And it sounded imposed by her, at least based on this quote:

"I'm not really concerned about my players - I think they're at least a little used to my style after years together. I'm fascinated by what others might do with either premise..."

@Alexcommented that Uroxi and Humakt would be "shafted" and how it would be better to "make the buy-in more explicit"@Darius West calls the main premise "absolutely artificial".  So it seems that several of us believe that Jenh's campaign would go against the players' initial expectations. 

Perhaps we misunderstand, and Jenh does intend to do a "Session Zero" to get player buy in.  It would be nice to get clarification.  And, maybe, as she says, her players will be fine with the unusual premise.

I enjoy campaigns that go against expectations.  Within reason.  It is completely reasonable, historical, and good storytelling for a band of mercs to become unemployed, or the war to end.  What happens after could be fun or not.  We had a campaign where our group was assisting one team in a "Rune Chef" contest, roaming Glorantha to collect exotic ingredients and spices, and to prevent rival teams from doing the same.  Not at all expected.  Generally non-lethal violence. Very fun.

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1 hour ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Perhaps we misunderstand, and Jenh does intend to do a "Session Zero" to get player buy in.  It would be nice to get clarification.  And, maybe, as she says, her players will be fine with the unusual premise.

Oh yes, this will be part of the campaign premise that I pitch to my group before we decide on what we're playing. It would be one of a number of options. I don't have any interest in, and can see no good results from, suddenly changing whatever world I'm playing in ways that change what the PCs do.

As for more specifics about who the characters are and what they do, I'm currently thinking of the PCs being individuals selected by high-ups in the Shaker Temple (and/or more directly divinely inspired) to (pave the way to) bring the exiles back to Tarsh. This might either start small (go see what's happening in the nearest settlement and proceed from there) or large (open negotiations with the closest person to the Red Emperor they can get to).

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