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M Helsdon

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Notes on heroquesting @Jeffhas shared on Facebook recently....

HISTORY OF HEROQUESTING
Heroquesting begins with Time, and the division of the Mundane World from the Gods World. In the God Time, there was no division between the worlds of men and gods, between Life and Death, or body and spirit. The events and deeds of the God Time made the cosmos and established its patterns. The Gods War introduced the power of Death, which separated all with violence, death, and entropy. Reality was fractured. The eternal gods would have ceased to exist but for the Cosmic Compromise, whereby the gods voluntarily abdicated their free will within the temporal world rather than lose all into the maws of nonexistence. The gods remained eternal at the cost of being limited to their God Time patterns. Heroquesting is the means by which mortals can interact with the events of the God Time.During the First Age, such men and women could fulfill their potential only with the established cults. A considerable amount of cult secret activity is devoted towards defining their god’s place in the mythic geography and exploring nearby events and neighbors. Associated cults often share events and unimportant secrets, with each other, but in general every religion kept its experiences on the Hero Plane to themselves. Only a few Brithini claimed to know everything, and to record it in Zzabur’s Blue Book, whose original is long lost beneath the Neliomi Sea. The few real fragments of this book found have proved alarmingly accurate. Most people are glad the rest is lost. Arkat Chaosbane was the first individual to discover heroquesting outside of a specific cult myth. He underwent several secret initiations (and excommunications) which gave him an unusual transcultural view of the secret world of myth. His personal experiences gave him clues which he followed, exploited, and taught to others. He finally established a cult which preserved the secrets of heroquesting. Arkat’s heir, the Dark Empire, was a widespread, loosely organized body of city states, families, priesthoods, and special interest groups. Upon his apotheosis in (c. 500) the benefits and problems were divided among loyal lieutenants of the great, solitary hero. The activities of the Dark Empire qualified its adherents as a Malkioni heretics. A holy war destroyed the cult of Arkat, driving its followers underground. Though the Arkat people attempted to destroy all their records in the Great Fire of Clarity (c. 715), much of their knowledge and Heroquesting techniques passed into the hands of the God Learners. The God Learners systematically explored the spirit plane, at the same time exploiting it without regard to its consciousness or purpose. In the centuries of their rule, they made substantial changes, even to the dreams of nations. At the time of their demise a poet wrote: “Too late, too late/ to save the dreams/ all lost forever down the Great Sink.” During most of the Third Age heroquesting was considered evil, because the God Learners were so enthusiastic about it. Cults purged themselves of unusual rites, denounced certain knowledge, and destroyed records. A general religious conservatism resulted in a stunted understanding of the religious experiences offered by each deity. Only the Lunar Empire actively pursued the subject. The Pelorian mystical geography was almost virgin territory since the area was never actively part of the God Learner’s mythic synthesis. The Red Goddess, an immortal orphan resurrected by ambitious mystics, opened her own way into the spirit world. The Lunar pantheon is largely made up of mortals who obtained divine status and replaced the Old Gods. The Lunar philosophy urges each person to seek their own heroquest, and the highlights of their history are lit by individuals who combined material and spiritual success. The processes of the Lunar Way seemed to contradict the Great Compromise, and in response the ancient gods of nature and time inspired many of their number to rebel against their hidebound cult authorities, and heroquest thoroughly, arming themselves to challenge the Red Goddess. The resultant battle of Castle Blue in 1246 resulted in the acceptance of the Red Goddess into the world as a deity. It was like an amendment to the Great Compromise. From then on, the forces of the Red Goddess expanded, always grating upon the anti-chaos sensitivities of the rest of the gods. Although the gods had been beaten into resignation, many humans did not accept the Red Goddess as natural. They felt cheated by the outcome and consciously sought to arm themselves as fully as possible for another fight rather than being summoned, almost unprepared, as they were before. They have been preparing Heroes. Now, in the last years of the Third Age, the social and religious fabric of society is dissolving. Bold individuals are carving niches for themselves, some in this world and some in the spirit world, and some in both. They are learning to be Heroes. Cosmic tensions have recently been exacerbated by the actions of the Red Goddess: she has gotten so close to destroying Orlanth that the very fabric of the universe is threatened. Prophets have predicted everywhere that a great spiritual battle is soon to take place, and that it will be preceded by many skirmishes. This time everyone is ready: the Hero Wars have begun.

A little more on the God Learners and Heroquesting:
A heroquest is a direct interaction with the divine realm of myth and archetypes. In a heroquest, you interact and experience the divine realm and bring back magic, be it Rune spells, guardian spirits, good harvest, a terrible curse, something long forgotten and hidden, etc.

As we interact with the kaleidoscopic divine realm, we of course change its arrangement. Like walking into a room of swirling smoke, our presence causes the mist to swirl around us, changing its direction and patterns. Most of the time we have little control of the changes – we enter the room, the smoke swirls because of our mere presence.

Like rationalists are even inclined to, the God Learners made the leap from conceptualizing how this all works together into the hubristic belief that they could control everything and reshape reality according to their will and intellect.

That second paragraph is the key to many mysteries.

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School for exploratory heroquesting
During the Hero Wars, the Tournament for the Masters of Luck and Death was called “our school for exploratory heroquesting.” Rumored participants include Sartar, Tarkalor, Dormal, and Broyan, but likely many others. As I mentioned before, some think the pathways the contestants follow are somehow connected with the claims of the Arkat Cult concerning the Secret Pathways through the Hero Plane.

One of the account of the Tournament described it as a series of “races” across the lands of the Holy Country:In the first race, the importance is not so much winning as it is to view the lands your cross. You may wish to do as the locals do, and run practice runs alone on the warm spring days, just for practice. Look around you, view the orchards, admire the crude roads for their dust. Barter a boat for a while, take a few minutes out to sightsee. Get to know the land, sea, and air.Later races add the chance to gain tools and allies, and encounter gods and guardians.

When deities were encountered during the Tournament, it was possible to placate it (if you knew its name) or challenge it (to give it a name, to get a secret from it, to gain a power, etc.). But if challenged, the deity would always issue a counter-challenge against the quester.

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As said many times before -After the long war Arkat retired with his closest confederates to Arkhome, which became the capitol of Arkat’s Autarchy. Arkat instituted formal cult procedures, created a government to rule after he was gone, then departed to the stasis of the Other Side in 500, where he remains worshiped as the patron god of Heroquesting. Arkat’s cult controlled exploratory Heroquesting. They had rigorous entrance requirements and maintained strict rules and iron discipline. They demanded respect for the magics, and a tender care in treating with them. The cult policed the Hero Plane, seeking unwanted or obtrusive Heroquesters and expelling them. They made many enemies that way but maintained stability on the Hero Plane.The God Learners destroyed Arkat’s Dark Empire in 740, and his empire, and his cult, fell to conquerers who carried off his secrets, prizes, and wonders. At this point stop. The cult founded by Arkat, with its secrets, its knowledge of exploratory Heroquesting, its rigorous entrance requirements and strict rules and iron discipline – that’s gone. The God Learners destroyed it, looted it, and wore its carcass as a hat.But a few centuries later, the God Learners themselves met the same fate. And various groups claimed to be the successors of the Arkat Cult, each with their own secrets and claims of direct lineage to Arkat. All have extravagant claims, and none have managed to fulfill their boasts.So each of these “Arkat cults” can be as wrong or as right as you the gamemaster want them to be in your campaign. They can be charlatans or keepers of mysteries – or both. They can be a little right and a lot wrong – or even something completely other “disguised” as an Arkat cult.Except there is one Arkat cult that might – just might – have a direct lineage to the God. That of Arkat Kingtroll in Halikiv, founded by the Wizard Children. Except they are no human, but monstrous dark trolls that live forever in Darkness. And they do not teach their secrets to non-trolls.

 

So when we talk about “the Arkat Cult” we have to be very careful to define what we mean by that. Are we talking about:

1. The original cult founded by Arkat that guarded the pathways of Heroquesting and was in existence cir. 450 to 740?
2. One of the many “successor cults” of the original cult?
3. The Kingtroll cult founded by the dark troll “Wizard Children” that keeps the secrets of sorcery for the trolls?
4. Something else?


That original cult had some pretty amazing secrets and lore. Even if they managed to keep much of their lore out of the hands of the God Learners, what the God Learners took was enough to jumpstart their techniques to a new level. Think about that – a secretive cult, bound by iron discipline, that held the mysteries behind the God Learners.

And this cult was dedicated to guarding the pathways of the Hero Plane, preventing people from misusing exploratory Heroquesting (and Illumination) to screw around with the mythic foundations of the cosmos. Imagine the things they did, the hero quests they stopped!And here’s a really crazy idea – what if there are still Arkati in the God Time? Eternally there, always reoccurring.Just an idea for you GMs…..

Any Arkati you encounter in the Third Age is going to be something like someone today claiming to be the heir to the secrets of the Knights Templar.

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Perhaps all of these parts are familiar to all of you, but understanding Arkat is a key to understanding the Third Age:Arkat was a man of reason who ventured into the Gods Realm on many occasions from many different starting points. He discovered the Secret Paths and wandered into the irrational unconscious of Glorantha and its archetypes and stories. Arkat participated in the Lightbringer’s Quest but rejected the Light so that he might delve deeper into the Darkness from where all unknown potentiality exists. Some claim he delved deeper than Subere, to the Chaosium itself. Arkat quested so often he even encountered himself on the Hero Plane and received a unhealable wound that caused him pain and weakness to his final day. Arkat’s many quests often had him become the enemy to his former friends and allies. When he finally fought hand to hand against Gbaji, he was no longer even human but a troll, a Dark Man. After the battle, Arkat was no longer a troll, or so said his friends and many trolls. He retired to Ralios with his companions, and brought peace to that long troubled land. Arkat instituted cult procedures, with rigorous entrance requirements and maintained strict rules and “iron” discipline concerning the use of his secrets – especially what Arkat had learned concerning exploratory Heroquesting. In 500, Arkat left his mortal existence and became a god. Arkat’s cult DEMANDED respect for the magics and secrets they had learned, and a tender care in treating with them. They had ways to watch the Secret Paths and they sough unwanted or obtrusive HeroQuesters and expelled them. They made many enemies that way, but maintained stability.The God Learners allied with the Kingdom of Seshnela and attacked Arkat’s Dark Empire. Arkat’s cult became military and religious figures, assuming more and more power, and Ralios became a true empire. Armies marched on the Dark Empire, whose resistance failed in 740 when the great temple of the Arkat cult was plundered and razed. His empire, and his cult, fell to conquerors who carried off his secrets, prizes, and wonders.The God Learners lacked the morality of the Arkat cult. They stemmed from Malkioni philosophers who insisted on the ultimate impersonality of the universe and feared no taboo or curse. Their courage and power were unquestionable, and they performed magical deeds previously unknown even to the gods.

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Few non-Lunars have ever dared explore the experimental landscape of Lunar mythology. Most celestial cults are reluctant to look into the shadows, and the Earth cults rarely look up into the sky. Maybe some of those Water cults might take a back route there along the path of the Blue Moon, but who cares about merfolk!
 
But if I was going to hazard who might be willing to do that - I have two candidates. The more intrepid Darkness cults like Subere are comfortable in the deepest darkness of the Underworld and might be able to find some of those same paths. Heck, might know some of them better than She does. So if I were the Red Emperor I'd be cautiously wary of the trolls as much as I despise them as vile digijelm.
 
The other candidate would be a god famed for assembling a band of misfits and then forging a path through the deepest Underworld to its very bottom. One who was willing to get lost, to lose everything, in order to find the right path through the deepest darkness of the Underworld and then unite others to defeat the God of Chaos. One whose defining Quest is so very similar to that of the Red Goddess herself that it might be that his quest be uncomfortably near the source of Her power? Yes, I would keep on eye on that one as well.
 
*********************************
 
So if we think about the Second Age, we have cultural transmission of ideas and secrets around the world. Around the coastal regions of the world, the Middle Sea Empire, with its mix of Malkionism with a smattering of Theyalan and Darkness myths (starting from the Broken Council and Gbaji Wars era, but later built upon with the Dark Empire) and finds parallels in Kralorela, Teshnos, Fonrit, and elsewhere. This leads to the Monomyth - a universal approach to Gloranthan Mythology.
 
Now many commentators will say "God Learner Lies" or similar nonsense, but the Monomyth worked. It enabled deep exploration of the God Time and experimental heroquests to gain power and rob secrets from their enemies. Like Arabic numbers, the Monomyth was too useful not to be used, and the Empire of the Wyrms Friends eagerly embraced it (which can be viewed as its return to its source - as the origins of the Monomyth was with the First and Second Councils).
 
And so by the height of the Second Age, a working understanding of the Monomyth had spread across much of Glorantha. The Monomyth never fully replaced many traditional names and cults, but it informed them of their greater context.
 
In the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, the Third Council learned secrets from the dragonewts and wyrms, something entirely consistent with the traditional Orlanthi openness to strangers and new ideas. With aid from mythic maps stolen from the God Learners and with the Monomyth as a framework, experimental heroquests and mythic explorations were common in Dragon Pass, as the lives of such individuals as Gorangi Vak, Ingolf Dragonfriend, Isgangdrang, Lord Labyrgon, and Pavis show.
 
The enemies of the empires also adopted their approach, and such heroes as Alakoring Rex, Iddi Scorchbane, Emperor Karvanyar, and Verenmars would not be possible without the secrets taken from the EWF and God Learners.
 
The disasters that ended the Second Age largely put an end to this experimental outlook and mythic explorations. With one big exception - the Lunar Empire.
 
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Around 650, some of the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass learned to speak with the Dragons. This opened tremendous mystical vistas for the Orlanthi, identifying the Cosmic Dragon as the Source and expanding their cosmological perspective. Unlike the Invisible God of the God Learners, insight into the Cosmic Dragon cannot be reached through materialistic logic - the identity of opposites, matters of duality and nonduality, formation of the "self", and other such metaphysical qiuestions.
 
The following immortal dragonewt poem is a chant and prayer which relates to the creation of the world and was popular with the Wyrmfriends:
 
- Silence, The Infinite
O Zero, or an exclamation
OU A cry of pain; Ego
OUR Collectiveness, plurality.
OURO Collective emptiness
OUROB Creation (Collective with an end-stop “b”)
OUROBO Closed Infinity, or Being
OUROBOR Birth.
OUROBORO Nothing, emptiness.
OUROBOROS S= “Voice” (i.e. the sound a serpent makes).
 
The poem shows a gradual internalization of something to bring about the formation of the concept of “self.” This poem was also repeated backwards at rituals and transported the chanters and the universe into mystical bliss which was ordinarily impossible to reach.
Ouroboros was sometimes worshiped as the Source and seen as the complement to Glorantha the World Goddess who was without consort or mate in her own realm. The phenomenal world is constantly changing and thus ultimately spiritually unreal - the gods themselves, although useful, do not reveal the hidden principles and implicit knowledge that created them and the universe.
 
Orlanth led the path towards draconic understanding. His openness to strangers meant it was easiest for his priests to speak to alien species. They learned that Orlanth embraced Arangorf the Inner Dragon, and that Orlanth had performed utuma for the Cosmic Dragon. Orlanth's role as a cosmic creative-destroyer was promoted by the priests, sometimes to the near-exclusion of his other aspects.
 
Through their draconic insights, the rulers of the Wyrms Friends had access to powerful dragon magic that terrified their enemies. Their mystics could dismiss even the most powerful of elementals or spells, terrify foes, deflect spells, breathe fire, or even become dragons themselves!
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So based on the past few posts, hopefully I conveyed the idea that the Second Age featured widespread mythic experimentation and exploration. Not only did we have God Learnerism, dragonic mysticism, and syncretic developments in cults, but also there was an exploration of the God Time. This was a time of remarkable cult-changing heroes such as Pavis, Alakoring Rex, Gorangi Vak, Ingolf Dragonfriend, Carmanos, Verenmars, Jaldon Goldentooth, Delecti, and many more. This was the time that experimental artificial gods were created - and they proved to have magical power (although not necessarily as expected).
However, the Second Age ended in catastrophes worse than that of the First Age. The Oceans were closed to humans. Seshnela was sundered into fragments, Slontos sunk, and the Dragonkill War exterminated humans in Dragon Pass. Nature struck back against human hubris. After 1120, humans had learned to fear experimentation, exploration, and new ideas.
 
There were three main exceptions to this:
 
In 1220, a desperate cabal with nothing left to lose brought back into the world a goddess that had been destroyed in the God Time. Seeking weapons against her enemies, she tread paths in the Underworld and became lost there until she was Illuminated by Nysalor and returned with the Crimson Bat. She later rose into the Middle Earth as the Red Moon after appointing her son as her regent for her mundane affairs.
In 1313, a Stranger came ashore in Kethaela despite the Closed Seas. He made alliances with the Silver Age heroes of that lands, gained acceptance of their gods and goddess, and overcame the Only Old One, the dark lord of that land since prehistory. He instituted rites and ceremonies by which the Gods World could remain in proximity of the mundane world, and began the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death to keep those pathways active and empowered. Kethaela became known as the Holy Country because of this.
 
In 1470, a wanderer named Sartar came to Dragon Pass from the Holy Country. Without using violence himself, this wanderer united the quarreling Orlanthi of Dragon Pass, made friends with the dwarfs, centaurs, dragonewts, ducks, and werewolves, founded cities and built roads, temples, and libraries, and made himself King of Dragon Pass when he married the Feathered Horse Queen (another mythic adventurer from the Grazelands). He displayed the secrets and magic of Orlanth Rex, but also maintained draconic friendship. The kingdom he founded became rich on trade, and was influential far beyond its size and population.

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When we think about the interactions between the God Time and the mundane world of our adventurers, two categories come into view.
 
First is the regular, ceremonial interaction that every cult does on every Holy Day. This activity maintains the pathways between the mundane and the divine and allows us to wield the power of the gods in the mundane world. These ceremonies are ritual and usually very predictable - on the other hand, the individual gains are pretty much that you gain access to Rune Magic, keep your cult spirits happy, and all the stuff that is usually handled in the background. In fact, I'd say they are only worth incorporating into a game when either 1. the steps of the ceremony are deliberately kept secret from the adventurers and they need to thus make their own decisions (e.g., initiation rites); or 2. something goes seriously wrong and the ceremony is now not so predictable.
 
Second category is the experimental exploration of the God Time. This is usually what is meant by a "heroquest". These quests are dangerous and unpredictable, but the rewards are far greater. Magical abilities, new spells, powerful spirit allies, new insight into the gods, and even immortality. Not all such heroquesters becomes "heroes" but this is the precondition for such status.
 
These heroquests are dangerous and powerful precisely because they are not regularly traveled.
 
So if you repeat a familiar and well-known story, it probably falls into the first category. It becomes interesting for a gaming session when it turns out the story is wrong, incomplete, or seriously misleading. Or that something has changed so much that the players need to create a new story.
 
If the adventurers need to explore the mythic realm itself then it is probably the second category. The Lightbringers Quest involves a trek across the changing landscape of the Lesser Darkness (as it becomes the Greater Darkness) and then a trek through the Underworld - where the questers GET LOST. That's second category, no matter how much you try to prepare for it. The Red Goddess quest is similar in its mysteries.
 
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My hope with these posts over the past few weeks is to give an impression as to the context around heroquesting, and to get us away from the approach in the King of Dragon Pass computer game (and often taken in the HW/HQ materials). Every culture performs ceremonies and rites that cause the mundane and divine worlds to overlap into what is called the Hero Plane. This is where you get your Rune magic from, your allied spirits, befriend cult spirits, and all that stuff.
Now that stuff is gameable, but it really only gets interesting IMO when things go wrong. When the ceremony no longer predictably works, when dangerous enemies show up, etc.
 
But far more interesting to me is deliberately exploring the mythic realms and discover previously unknown paths through the divine world. This is what heroes such as Alakoring, Argrath, Arkat, the Feathered Horse Queen, Harmast, Harrek, Jaldon Goldentooth, Pavis, Sir Ethilrist, Cragspider, Jar-eel, Hwarin Dalthippa, Hon-eel, and the Red Goddess. They did not "invent" new myths - they traveled previously unknown paths through the Hero Plane and brought back their experiences to the mundane world. They discovered paths and events that had always been latent in the God Time.
 
This approach to heroquesting was fairly common in the late First Age and through the Second Age. Most people shunned it after the cataclysms that ended that Age. BUT not everywhere - in the Lunar Empire and the Holy Country this sort of spiritual exploration remained, although for very different ends. And Sartar and his dynasty inherit the techniques developed in the Holy Country.
 
As the Hero Wars develop, the protagonists take more risks and gambles in their heroquesting - such as rediscovering the techniques of the God Learners and the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, using Chaotic magic in heroquests, and more. People take short cuts, make permanent changes for short-term gains, and all the sorts of things that people do when they are desperate and ambitious. That becomes the Hero Wars. We start from a familiar starting point, but by the end, the world has changed so much we can barely recognize where we began.
Edited by M Helsdon
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Will attempt to keep this thread up-to-date with @Jeff's posts and replies....

It is important to keep in mind that underlying Glorantha are the Runes and other archetypes. These archetypes are more real than reality. We know that the Runes joined together, came into conflict, devolved, and made the world we live in. But how we interact with these archetypes is based on our experiences which in turn is the foundation of our understanding of it all.
 
Repeating somebody else's story is not the point of heroquesting - nobody becomes a hero by simply being the understudy! One becomes a hero by making your own path through the mythic realm of archetypes and Runes. Make the divine and eternal the personal and psychological!
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9 minutes ago, Jeff said:

A lot of good stuff there. Thanks for assembling this Martin!

 

6 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

 

*********************************
 
My hope with these posts over the past few weeks is to give an impression as to the context around heroquesting, and to get us away from the approach in the King of Dragon Pass computer game (and often taken in the HW/HQ materials). Every culture performs ceremonies and rites that cause the mundane and divine worlds to overlap into what is called the Hero Plane. This is where you get your Rune magic from, your allied spirits, befriend cult spirits, and all that stuff.
 
Now that stuff is gameable, but it really only gets interesting IMO when things go wrong. When the ceremony no longer predictably works, when dangerous enemies show up, etc.
 
But far more interesting to me is deliberately exploring the mythic realms and discover previously unknown paths through the divine world. This is what heroes such as Alakoring, Argrath, Arkat, the Feathered Horse Queen, Harmast, Harrek, Jaldon Goldentooth, Pavis, Sir Ethilrist, Cragspider, Jar-eel, Hwarin Dalthippa, Hon-eel, and the Red Goddess. They did not "invent" new myths - they traveled previously unknown paths through the Hero Plane and brought back their experiences to the mundane world. They discovered paths and events that had always been latent in the God Time.
 
This approach to heroquesting was fairly common in the late First Age and through the Second Age. Most people shunned it after the cataclysms that ended that Age. BUT not everywhere - in the Lunar Empire and the Holy Country this sort of spiritual exploration remained, although for very different ends. And Sartar and his dynasty inherit the techniques developed in the Holy Country.
 
As the Hero Wars develop, the protagonists take more risks and gambles in their heroquesting - such as rediscovering the techniques of the God Learners and the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, using Chaotic magic in heroquests, and more. People take short cuts, make permanent changes for short-term gains, and all the sorts of things that people do when they are desperate and ambitious. That becomes the Hero Wars. We start from a familiar starting point, but by the end, the world has changed so much we can barely recognize where we began.

If you read nothing else, read that section above.

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6 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

The God Learners destroyed Arkat’s Dark Empire in 740, and his empire, and his cult, fell to conquerers who carried off his secrets, prizes, and wonders. At this point stop. The cult founded by Arkat, with its secrets, its knowledge of exploratory Heroquesting, its rigorous entrance requirements and strict rules and iron discipline – that’s gone. The God Learners destroyed it, looted it, and wore its carcass as a hat.

Makes me wonder what the Wolf Pirates have taken from the City of Wonders.  What treasures and tools that they took away might become curses to them... or others... Or be sought after by other mortals or immortals.

 

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45 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Makes me wonder what the Wolf Pirates have taken from the City of Wonders.  What treasures and tools that they took away might become curses to them... or others... Or be sought after by other mortals or immortals.

You might find some of them on the market of Casino Town or Nochet, but would I think that a lot of the special magical items were architectural in nature, nothing you can grab and carry off to a penteconter. A successful raid on the City of Wonders would carry away a tower or something, like that piece of red coral from Bambara Maunde that ended up as the core of a city elsewhere in inland Fonrit.

But then, maybe there is a former architectural feature of the City of Wonders now overlooking a part of Skullport? If not from the 1616 raid, then maybe from the 1624 one, after Harrek learned about that Fonritian heist?

(Note to self: write that up as a scenario.)

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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3 hours ago, Joerg said:

You might find some of them on the market of Casino Town or Nochet, but would I think that a lot of the special magical items were architectural in nature, nothing you can grab and carry off to a penteconter. A successful raid on the City of Wonders would carry away a tower or something, like that piece of red coral from Bambara Maunde that ended up as the core of a city elsewhere in inland Fonrit.

Even installations like this can be quite valuable to the enterprising adventurer.  When my players raided the capital of Vadeli Oabil as part of the heroquest Desero's Horde they ransacked the mansions of the Blue Vadeli, broke open the mosaics and sculptures containing bound gods and spirits, and gained great boons for freeing them.  Every enemy god and spirit Belintar imprisoned in the structure of his capital could become a new friend to the Wolf Pirates, or at least might provide a fine Otherworld ransom for their freedom.

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I think of experimental hero questing like gain of function virus research. You might discover important clues about imminent problems, or you might accidentally release a terrible problem on the world.

My interpretation of the hero wars is they forced the Orlanthi to reconsider religious conservatism. When the Wind Stop occurred, imagine the shock to Orlanthi and associated cults. Here they were complacently believing Orlanth was the king of the gods, maybe even that Orlanth would take care of the goddess if they were devout enough, then suddenly their security was taken away.

Even worse, when they started exploring the hero plane before the Wind Stop, they found the Lunars had been there first, tampering with the myths, closing their access to power to fight the overwhelming magical prowess of the chaos moon.

This is why IMO Argrath's draconic mysticism and temples of the reaching storm and other odd powers were accepted. When Orlanth vigorously rekindled the flame of Sartar after Argrath entreated him, they knew whatever odd things Argrath did were OK with their god, so they wholeheartedly followed all his breaches of tradition to free their lands from chaos.

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16 hours ago, Ian_W said:

It's the one that makes the whole of Sartar forget about how the Dragons killed everything in Sartar and made then cooperate with Argrath White Bull with no objections, so it's pretty powerful.

How many Sartarites have been killed by the Dragons since 1300 when the Colymar returned to Dragon Pass? Very few by True Dragons, a relatively small number by Dream Dragons and the like. How long has it been since the DragonKill? 500 Years. 

How many times has the Crimson Bat come through Sartar since 1602?

If I was a Sartarite and I'd seen the Crimson Bat, then I would be looking for anything that could help me fight the Lunar Empire. Would I be particularly worried about an ancient event that happened 500 years ago and actually didn't happen to my ancestors? I can tell you that our PCs were terrified when they saw the Crimson Bat and we're looking for anything that can help our clan survive the Great Winter. And if and when we do, vengeance upon the Lunars is going to be pretty high on the agenda, so making our peace with draconic powers to use them against the Lunars is hardly a stretch. No Greg rune necessary at all.

But YGMV if you want to do it differently. 

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On 12/31/2021 at 11:16 AM, M Helsdon said:

Repeating somebody else's story is not the point of heroquesting - nobody becomes a hero by simply being the understudy! One becomes a hero by making your own path through the mythic realm of archetypes and Runes. Make the divine and eternal the personal and psychological!

On 12/31/2021 at 11:26 AM, Jeff said:

If you read nothing else, read that section above.

Jeff notes further on FB: "Becoming a Rune Lord or Priest is a common step on the path of becoming a Hero. But a Hero is more than that.... We initially learn by following the forms we are taught. In RQ, this is Rune magic, cult initiation and becoming a Rune Master. But to go the next step, we make it our own - and Heroes do the same."

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There's an interesting underlying thought here in how the Community (whether clan, tribe, city, cult) must emphasize the traditions:  initiation, cultural participation, Rune magic, Rune Master/cultural leader.  These have rewards/benefits, but you must stay aligned with the underlying myths that support the traditions to gain those benefits.

Stepping out has a cost - you may lose some or all of those benefits.  But that stepping out is the path of the Hero, and requires you to solve/resolve the personal and psychological factors of your own myths to do so.  And clearly many who try to do so must fail - perhaps they die, perhaps they become outlaws or get labeled as tricksters or Chaos, perhaps they become the community's villains, perhaps they become monsters. 

And these personal myths must bring forth their own monsters - your personal monsters - that will likely defeat or humiliate you before you can learn how to overcome them.  The Seven Steps of the Red Goddess clearly highlights this process, as does the Lightbringer's Quest.

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Heroquesters collect stakes of communities that support them, and the communities' investments may backfire significantly even when the questers are successful. If your community leaders are the questers, they are likely to bring in the community resources they control, wagering much if not all of the wel-being of the community for that quest. (But then, community leaders may decide to go all in on some third party heroquesters, like lending the Black Spear to some local troubleshooters...)
 

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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16 hours ago, jajagappa said:

And these personal myths must bring forth their own monsters - your personal monsters - that will likely defeat or humiliate you before you can learn how to overcome them.  The Seven Steps of the Red Goddess clearly highlights this process, as does the Lightbringer's Quest.

That end-of-second-act low point will get you every time! But leaping off of that, this implies that becoming a hero involves acts of editing and redaction, processing the events of your life such that they produce a narrative, an arc of flight over the course of your life, and promulgating them. But the events that are outside the narrative remain, free for the creative quester to take up and riff upon...

(Is this why Ethilrist's History of My Black Horse Troop is so exhaustive in detail? Shielding himself from creative deconstruction? I suppose that explains just why Keener Than always knows which side to join...)

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The Thelxinoë of the Graclodont set.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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Jeff writes:

So when we think about heroquesting, the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, and Belintar's Holy Country, one common thread is the idea of the "Proximate Holy Realm".
 
The mundane world and the divine realm are distinct. Many philosophers and priests claim that the divine realm (which exists eternally in the God Time) underlies and defines our mundane world. We all know that they overlap during worship ceremonies and at some specific places where the divine realm erupts through the mundane world.
 
Heroquesters interact with both realms. They are mortals, born in Time, but their heroquests have them interacting with archetypes and powers tied to the divine realm These interactions follow prehistoric patterns eternally present in the cosmos. Life is always producing Life, Death is always Separating the Living from the Dead, Air overcomes Fire/Sky, Fire/Sky overcomes Darkness, etc. This overlap of the divine realm and the mundane world that the heroquester interacts is usually called the Hero Plane.
 
After the wild heroquests that ended the First Age - Arkat and Harmast are best known, but there were far more than those two - priests in Dragon Pass came up with the idea of the Proximate Holy Realm. Through widespread use of magic and adoption of the "holy customs", the divine realm could be brought closer to people. These holy customs encroached on clan and tribal organization by requiring that leaders meet certain magical criteria that were in the hands of the organized religion of Orlanth and Ernalda. Within a generation or two, the priests became a centralized heirarchy ruled by a Sacred Ring that in turned ruled all of Dragon Pass.
 
The Proximate Holy Realm brought widespread prosperity and peace to Dragon Pass. But maintaining this required an increasing amount of magic energies and resources. As the Orlanthi learned to communicate with the dragons, eventually the Sacred Ring learned to do so around 725 and become the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, which gave far greater magical resources to the Sacred Ring which meant that the Sacred Ring - restyled the Third Council in 826 - had vast surpluses, at least at first. As the EWF expanded it gained more resources, and in 889 the Third Council accelerated the process, and demanded to be worshiped directly as gods.
 
The costs of maintaining this grew, but the EWF no longer expanded. With rebellions, it began to contract and lost resources as the requirements to maintain the Proximate Holy Realm continued grew. The people were forced to offer more and more to the Third Council, and received less and less for it. The Third Council was visibly decadent and exploitive, and the tottering edifice collapsed in 1042.
Belintar had a different solution. His deeds uniting the lands of Kethaela brought his Holy Country close to the Proximate Holy Realm. But he maintained this through his Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death, which summoned heroquesters from far and wide. The Tournament resulted in a new Belintar and reunite the Holy Country, as described elsewhere. It was easy to cross over into the divine realm and vice versa, especially during the Tournament. The Holy Country enjoyed centuries of peace and prosperity, but Belintar was slain by Jar-eel in 1616 and the Tournament failed to produce a successor.
 
But many philosophers believe that Dragon Pass remains close to a Proximate Holy Realm, especially during the Hero Wars. Some claim this is because of the Lunar efforts to change the divine realm itself, others think it is a result of the True Dragons that have been awakened in Dragon Pass, starting with the Dragonrise. Whatever the reason, wild heroquesting was increasingly common among all participants in the Hero Wars, arguably even more so than in the Gbaji Wars.
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Posted (edited)

Jeff writes:

So often when we talk about heroquesting, it is in the context of gaining power, defeating a foe, exploring the mythic realms, learning magical secrets, and so on. Not surprising - that is the heroquests of the God Learners and of the post-Red Goddess Lunars. Such quests require knowledge, preparation, and magical power. They can achieve great things, but some theorize that the universe itself begins to react against them.
 
Such heroquesters become trapped in Arachne Solara's web unless they are very careful and respectful of what they do and where they tread.
 
Of course there are other more powerful contexts for heroquesting. One is desperate need. When one has lost everything and can lose nothing more, Arachne Solara herself shows a path through the wilderness. Such quests require true need and desperation - like that of the Red Goddess.
 
But the most powerful context is that of cosmic necessity. When the cosmos itself needs the hero lest part or all be destroyed by Chaos. Such quests are aided by Glorantha herself - or at least or ghost.
 
Some priests speculate that the full Lightbringers Quest requires both desperate need and cosmic necessity.
Edited by M Helsdon
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Jeff writes:

 

Because of the magical energies released as part of the preparations for the Lightbringers Quest (and perhaps because of the awakening of a True Dragon with the Dragonrise), much of Sartar could be said to be on the Hero Plane during Sacred Time of 1625. While Kallyr and her companions traveled about Sartar performing the Westfaring and Descent, there were manifestations of the divine realm elsewhere. Many people reported seeing battles in the sky, burning footprints, marching trees, the Night Wolf, and the Black Eater. A few saw stranger things, like the Stream being filled with corpses or the Three Feathered Rivals. One even claimed to have found herself at the edge of the world.
 
Such manifestations and events became increasingly common during the Hero Wars, as even greater releases of magical energy occurred.
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Jeff sez:

One of the great benefits of heroquesting is the ability to gain magic outside of what can be gained from one's cult. These magic abilities often operate mechanically similarly to Rune spells. Sometimes these new spells can be incorporated within the cult structure, creating a new subcult. For example, Garundyer gained the spells of Hailstones from Siglolf Cloudcrusher - these spells form the basis of the Cloudcrusher subcult of Orlanth Thundrous.
 
Alternatively, these new spells can form the basis of a new cult similar to a Spirit Cult. Hon-eel brought forth Bless Maize which became the basis of her cult. Argrath brought forth the White Bull which has become a popular Spirit Cult in Prax.
 
Most often, these new abilities are personal to the quester. Sarostip has the ability to kill with his left eye. Hofstaring had his flying spear. Jaldon Goldentooth has his ability to bite through walls. Harrek has his God-Spirit White Bear Cloak. Many heroes possess the ability to return from the dead or to Discorporate their spirits.
 
The distinctions between these approaches and why an ability gained on a heroquest might be personal or might be incorporated into a cult can get more than a little fuzzy or contradictory, but there are certain generalizations. Powers gained on quests where the hero travels in the footsteps of their god are easiest to incorporate into their cult. Powers gained on new quests that can be repeated but are outside of the mythos of the cult must become a new cult. And powers not shared with others remain personal.
2Ossi Hiekkala and 1 other
 
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On 12/31/2021 at 7:10 PM, Martin Dick said:

I agree, but I also think the House of Sartar had been heading down this road since Sartar had arrived in Dragon Pass and had laid the foundation for the return to Orlanthi acceptance of change. 

I agree fully. Sartar the Founder brought experimentation with the mythical realm back to the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass.

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