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Eurmals: bonded, covert, or lynched?


Scorus

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What is the canon of how Eurmali are treated in society? In my games, I have assumed that all Eurmals are either bonded, covert (i.e. not publically known as Eurmal), or pretty much lynched (strung up, on the run, tarred and feathered, etc.). That was my interpretation of the KoS description:

"No one likes or trusts Tricksters. They are regularly lynched, partly because no one trusts them, and partly because murderous idiots, who are normally restrained by law, have no law to restrain them from murdering Tricksters. Thus, Tricksters live utterly outside the law, and can do anything they want. However, they are not protected by law at all either, and most tribes lynch anyone proven to be a trickster.

Thanks to Orlanth for the loyalty pledge. If the Trickster will swear absolute obedience to an Orlanth initiate, then that initiate must protect the Eurmali from unjust harm. In this way some Orlanthi tame a trickster enough to allow them into sacred ritual."

This seems to be backed up by the RQG initiate requirement: "The initiate must be willing to become an outlaw."

That said, things I have read more recently seem to have the cult as more mainstream than I realized and I'm wondering if I have been misinterpreting it. From Jeff's facebook posts, we know there are ca. 150 Eurmal in Boldhome, who are "not only tolerated by the Orlanthi, but actively encouraged by the leadership of the Orlanth cult." And in the starter set the pre-generated Eurmal character's instructions for players mentions not saying anything but also seems to feel he will be able to carry on if discovered. Nor does it appear as if the Eurmal Priest on the Jonstown Ring is bonded, though he is definitely known.

So how far off was my 'bonded, covert, or lynched' interpretation? Are there overt, unbonded Eurmali (mostly stickpickers, of course) in every clan who are allowed to go about their business? What percentage of the ca. 1,150 Eurmali in Sartar are bonded? Thanks.

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I suspect the canonical answer is, "YGWV" and/or "it depends."

Recall that Eurmal was one of the Lightbringers, and the LBQ (and several other key Orlanthi myths and rituals) utterly fail for lack of a Trickster.
If you have no Bonded trickster available... do you just accept failure?

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2 hours ago, Scorus said:

What is the canon of how Eurmali are treated in society? In my games, I have assumed that all Eurmals are either bonded, covert (i.e. not publically known as Eurmal), or pretty much lynched (strung up, on the run, tarred and feathered, etc.). That was my interpretation of the KoS description:

It seems we're getting a change from the "most tribes lynch anyone proven to be a trickster", though if you define "canon" as "what's in print and on the list", one could argue we're somewhat "pre-canonical" on that, if you want to be especially cautious.

2 hours ago, Scorus said:

This seems to be backed up by the RQG initiate requirement: "The initiate must be willing to become an outlaw."

That is, as I see you observing yourself in another thread, somewhat open to interpretation:  it's a contingency, not necessarily an inevitability, and outlawry itself doesn't necessarily mean execution.

2 hours ago, Scorus said:

So how far off was my 'bonded, covert, or lynched' interpretation? Are there overt, unbonded Eurmali (mostly stickpickers, of course) in every clan who are allowed to go about their business? What percentage of the ca. 1,150 Eurmali in Sartar are bonded? Thanks.

Apparently it's now more 'bonded, covert, enjoys customary protection when ritually clowning, or lynched'.  With the option of combining the third and fourth cases, by way of scapegoating, or perhaps the aforementioned murderous idiots deciding they have some leeway between 'custom' and 'law'.  And maybe #2 and #3 if there's a secret identity involved -- after all, that mask and all that illusion magic can be the useful for something!

Specifically, see this interesting additional nugget:

Whether those will ever get spelled out as percentages is another matter.

3 minutes ago, g33k said:

I suspect the canonical answer is, "YGWV" and/or "it depends."

Always part of canon, indeed!

3 minutes ago, g33k said:

Recall that Eurmal was one of the Lightbringers, and the LBQ (and several other key Orlanthi myths and rituals) utterly fail for lack of a Trickster.
If you have no Bonded trickster available... do you just accept failure?

"Trickster volunteers, take one step forward!"
"Now, purely hypothetically and out of curiosity...  Volunteers for a Lightbringers Quest?  Or a fatal scapegoating?"

I'm also reminded of stories of someone being baptised, made a deacon, priest, bishop and then pope all on the one day.  Now'd be the perfect time to...  induce a Trickster to accept being bound to you!

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9 hours ago, Scorus said:

Are there overt, unbonded Eurmali

Clowns, everybody loves clowns:

https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/catalogue/websites/facebook/2020-02-jeff-on-facebook/

 

-----

Search the Glorantha Resource Site: https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com. Search the Glorantha mailing list archives: https://glorantha.steff.in/digests/

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3 hours ago, David Scott said:

Clowns, everybody loves clowns:

Excessively obvious use of the Lie rune magic, only worked on me for 12 SR.

(I refuse to comment on how many pies to the face or instances trousers falling down occurred in that melee round.)

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2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

One person in thirty is a trickster? You're not going to have many boring days there, that's for certain!

Is your math correct? The Guide says Boldhome has 11k people.

10 hours ago, Alex said:

outlawry itself doesn't necessarily mean execution

This.

I'm still struggling to figure out what "socially active" Eurmali people do and how, but one possible way to think about it is to compare them to modern satirists like George Carlin and John Oliver and so on. They come around, mock leaders and rituals and traditions and such, all the while providing insightful commentary. So some people are all up in arms about these outrageous or even sacrilegious claims, while others are, like, "well, no, wait, they've got a point". And as long as the latter is sizable enough compared to the former, the Eurmali continues their job as a comedian. And of course, the rest of the audience just laughs at the jokes, maybe not really grasping the subtext to that farting-Orlanth bit.

Of course, there are other Eurmalis. IMG the covert ones are mostly scammers and thieves and such, and the bonded ones are basically either jesters, or "black ops" operatives.

Funny enough, all of them, whether comedians, jesters, or black ops, can and will be used as scapegoats.

Edited by lordabdul
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20 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

The Guide says Boldhome has 11k people.

Ah, I thought it was 5000. But even so... more than 1% of the population are tricksters, in a setting where social control is probably kinda lax compared to in a clan. I can't see anything going wrong here!

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1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

Ah, I thought it was 5000. But even so... more than 1% of the population are tricksters, in a setting where social control is probably kinda lax compared to in a clan. I can't see anything going wrong here!

Hehe 🙂    A little quick half-assed math:

  • Jesters in tribal houses: about 1 per tribe, plus a couple more for the Prince, including a few "black ops" operatives: 30
  • Entertainers: hanging out with the Donandar performers and other public speakers and such: 15
  • Other types of artists: poets, painters, engravers, etc. who are empowered by the local Eurmal temple to challenge the status quo and do weird modern art that makes conservatives angry (remember that Narres Runepainter is an Eurmal initiate in the Starter Set): 55
  • Thieves, con-artists, and miscellaneous "covert" Eurmalis (most of them part of the criminal underground): 25
  • Eurmalis maintaining what I think is pretty much the only "proper" Eurmal temple in Sartar: 10
  • Random troublemakers and miscellaneous weirdoes: 10

Feel free to tweak the numbers up and down, add/remove categories, and then unleash trouble upon your PCs when they visit the city 😉 

Edited by lordabdul
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Also remember that Eurmali make for excellent Useful Troublemakers. I imagine there's all sorts of people who will happily tolerate the antics that upset their competitors and rivals... until the joke is on them, at which point said rivals and competitors might take it upon themselves to put off the lynching while they watch the fun. And so on.

A trickster can probably get away with a lot as long as the community only takes turns wanting their heads on a stake....

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2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

One person in thirty is a trickster? You're not going to have many boring days there, that's for certain!

As LA says, surely more like one in 75, or about 1.4%.  The 5K 

But seems a little high to me too.  I kinda get the impression it was arrived at via a sort of Equal Rites logic of treating the 'minority' cults somewhat similarly.  My impression prior to that was that it was more of a special case.  Relatively few initiates, largely sustained by lots of "collateral worship", in one form or another.  OTOH, the "customarily protected clown" role makes sense to me too and works as a shiny new thing we didn't know about before.  So maybe this is just niggling over whether there's some notional distinction between Low Entertainer Clowny "lay tricksters" and Big Bad Scary Eurmali -- an Illusionary and Disorderly rigorous distinction in initiatory statuses, definitely checks out!

13 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

But even so... more than 1% of the population are tricksters, in a setting where social control is probably kinda lax. I can't see anything going wrong here!

To continue the Producers trope from the threads discussing having tithe 150% of your income to the three different cults you joined, "... where did I go right?!"

42 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

I'm still struggling to figure out what "socially active" Eurmali people do and how, but one possible way to think about it is to compare them to modern satirists like George Carlin and John Oliver and so on. They come around, mock leaders and rituals and traditions and such, all the while providing insightful commentary.

Yeah, no doubt there's a range of related niches:  clown, fool, jester, bard, skald.  I can't help but think of the line in A Thousand Ships where Penelope is musing about whether she should have a wandering poet flogged for his insolence.

What I haven't quite internalised yet is what "customarily protected clowns" do with their downtime.  Wearing the Halloween Prisoner Costume and snarking full-time sounds...  exhausting.  Do these individuals have day jobs they go back to?  Whether normal-normal, or "low entertainer" allied crafts normal.  If they do, how safe are they from Greg's aforementioned "murderous idiots"?  Conversely, if someone's moonlighting between the "benign" aspects of Trickster (Clown, Fool, Jester) and the more (capital-)crimey ones (like Seducer of the wrong people, Destroyer or Thief of the wrong things, Murderer, etc), I suspect the codpiece isn't complete protection if the covert basis they're doing that on gets rumbled.

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50 minutes ago, Alex said:

What I haven't quite internalised yet is what "customarily protected clowns" do with their downtime.  Wearing the Halloween Prisoner Costume and snarking full-time sounds...  exhausting.  Do these individuals have day jobs they go back to?

Same here - how do they make a living? Especially in a clan setting, you can only do that much scamming and minor theft. Maybe stickpicking, but do they really have the attention span?

I have a (counter-canonical) idea that there might be "lay-member clowns" - you work your farm all day long until you don the clown costume for a holy day as a welcome way to vent steam/enjoy yourself/perform an important religious function. Then back to the farm afterwards it is.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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20 minutes ago, WindSerpent said:

A trickster can probably get away with a lot as long as the community only takes turns wanting their heads on a stake....

This is true, there's one or two hundred clans in Sartar...  surely can't all be mad at you at once?  Actually, they likely can, but those are the occupational hazards! You super-critted your comedy stylings, which it turns out is much the same as a hyper-fumble for life expectancy purposes!

If it comes to it, Lie, flee, and as the BBC would say, other kingdoms are available...

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4 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

I have a (counter-canonical) idea that there might be "lay-member clowns" - you work your farm all day long until you don the clown costume for a holy day as a welcome way to vent steam/enjoy yourself/perform an important religious function. Then back to the farm afterwards it is.

I think that's a strong possibility, and I could argue it's not necessarily counter-canonical.  Though I won't as I'm not hugely invested in that either way, and it might be begging to be told otherwise.

But it could work by being "secret", whether an open one or an actual one, or by hiding in plain sight.  "No, of course I'm not really a Trickster, I'm just helping out with the ritual, due to the generous Lightbringers cult Eurmali Development Grant available for this very purpose!"  <*stacks up more points of Trickster rune magic on the fly*>

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39 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

"Yes, we were mad at first, but then we saw the funny side of it... not sure why it seemed hilarious at the time... hmmmmm..."

Strike, Group Laughter, and Lie, and Orlanth's Stolen Flying Boots should clearly all be mutually stackable!

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From the general responses, it seems that the concept of Eurmali has been or is being changed such that "They are regularly lynched" and "most tribes lynch anyone proven to be a trickster" is no longer canon, correct? Instead they are tolerated until scapegoated? Can someone at Chaosium confirm that?

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4 hours ago, lordabdul said:
  • Eurmalis maintaining what I think is pretty much the only "proper" Eurmal temple in Sartar: 10

I'm assuming that's at ten different locations.  "Mine is the one true Eurmal temple."  "No, mine!"  "Heretics!!"

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2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Same here - how do they make a living? Especially in a clan setting, you can only do that much scamming and minor theft. Maybe stickpicking, but do they really have the attention span?

I have a (counter-canonical) idea that there might be "lay-member clowns" - you work your farm all day long until you don the clown costume for a holy day as a welcome way to vent steam/enjoy yourself/perform an important religious function. Then back to the farm afterwards it is.

Jeff has said several times that most Eurmal are stickpickers. I assume that is a general category that includes urban beggars, rag-and-bone men, charcoal carriers, ditchdigger, etc. Poorest of the able-bodied.

Though do keep in mind that modern stickpickers make over $50K according to Glassdoor: https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/stickpicker-salary-SRCH_KO0,11.htm

🙂

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8 minutes ago, Scorus said:

Jeff has said several times that most Eurmal are stickpickers. I assume that is a general category that includes urban beggars, rag-and-bone men, charcoal carriers, ditchdigger, etc. Poorest of the able-bodied.

At its most general, I suspect it's essentially a shorthand for "anyone with a ransom under 200L (but above 0)".

Or arguably below 150L, depending which you feel is the more disparaging term, "stickpicker", or "philosopher"...

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On 11/23/2021 at 2:48 PM, Scorus said:

So how far off was my 'bonded, covert, or lynched' interpretation? Are there overt, unbonded Eurmali (mostly stickpickers, of course) in every clan who are allowed to go about their business? What percentage of the ca. 1,150 Eurmali in Sartar are bonded? Thanks.

Yes there are tricksters who fall into this "other" category imo.  Orlanthi society has groups of people who live on the fringes of normal life.  Uroxi roam the land looking for chaos, often putting aside clan and tribal loyalty in order to kill chaos.  Shamans live away from the rest of Orlanthi society because they (a) spend a lot of time in the company of spirits and (b) the concentration of spirits in their vicinity makes casual contact potentially dangerous for those around them.  Humakti and Yemlalios mercenaries will sell their services to clans and tribes, and spend plenty of time on the road between jobs and settlements.  Orlanthi rebels are often hiding out in the woods.  Issaries merchants may be 'of the travelling kind', rather than shopkeepers.  There are plenty of fringe dwellers, and many tricksters are able to slot themselves into such transient societies for a short while at least.  Arguably the Puppeteer troupes have lots of tricksters in them to provide illusions, as well as Donandar initiates.  There are references to Trickster Bands, such as the one that Oddi the Keen hangs out with riddling long into the night who illuminate him (Cults of Chaos p53 & 87).  This suggests that in Dorastor at least, there are groups of tricksters who move about together (what a nightmare!). Who would seriously want to mess with a band of tricksters? Left to their own devices they will endlessly torment each other, but may unite against a common threat.  It may be that some tribes who understand the benefits of having a trickster around to augment their hero quests may also keep a spare trickster or two in the clan line-up in case the chief's bonded trickster dies.  Now, being a bonded trickster is potentially a pretty cushy gig, but even at 1 bonded trickster per clan there aren't enough of those jobs to go around. Most tricksters in Sartar will be unbonded; perhaps as many as 90% imo, but their lives will be like trollkin; brutish, nasty, hungry and short.

Edited by Darius West
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