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How does Chaos work in Lunar society?


EricW

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Lunars have access to Chaos Gift.

That felt good - extra strength to swing a sword, greater dexterity, extra endurance to survive damage, greater intelligence or power.

What happens if the Lunar wants to go further? So for example, if they want a "permanent" chaos gift? Will they still be accepted by their community? What are the social or legal consequences?

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Lunars consider Chaos to be an intrinsic part of the universe, but something to be generally avoided unless you know what you're doing. Conversely, Orlanthi view it as an anathema and an abomination and REQUIRE Chaos be destroyed if at all possible.

As I understand Lunar society, the people who 'know what they're doing' are the magicians of the Lunar College of Magic and the church of the Red Goddess or Crimson Bat. Everyone else is HIGHLY encouraged to stay away from it lest your lack of knowledge leads to unfortunate consequences.

The College of Magic is a pathway to Illumination, which provides a ready-made social group for those with Chaos Features. I don't know if the cults of the Red Goddess or Crimson Bat will have a path to Illumination in RQG or not, but logically they still provide a refuge for those with obvious Chaos Features.

In the larger society, outside these venues, I would guess that it depends on how corrupt and decadent a given city is. I don't perceive Broo and Walktapuses roaming the streets of Lunar cities, nor do I see humans afflicted with some of the uglier or egregiously nasty Features being able to walk around in public. I would say that the more off the baseline of human norms a Feature recipient is, the harder a time they'll have with it. If your Feature is reflecting spells with no outward appearance, you're probably fine. If you have a third arm and body coated with a stinking slime that adds 3AP to each hit location, you're going to have problems.

I have no doubt that once we eventually get the Lunar Handbook, a lot of my suppositions here will be changed. But this is my best read on it based on all my Gloranthan material to date.

Edited by svensson
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While the Lunar Way is accepting of Chaos, and the Lunar Empire is willing to tolerate Chaos under controlled conditions, few people in the Lunar Empire will be delighted with the increase of Chaos in their neighborhood.

The Rough Guide to Glamour tells us about the disease-resistant sanitation worker broos of the city, a community which is appreciated for the services they provide to the city and the empire. People still shun them, but then, that is the general fate of people who work with sewage, Chaos Features or not. As long as these sanitation worker broos abstain from impregnating the population nilly-willy and possibly would be fine with a quota of senescent herd beasts given to them to deal with their reproductive urges, and then the offspring getting civilized and trained, this much is tolerable in one of the most open-minded metropolises in Glorantha.

Volunteering to accept a (random!) Chaos Feature is the equivalent of receiving military grade hardware implants that cannot be removed without killing the carrier. Recipients will be firmly encouraged to join an organization able to monitor and secure such individuals, like the Lunar Army, or the households of trustworthy nobles. Otherwise, emigration to Dorastor might be suggested, where there is a sizeable population of chaos-tainted humans, the grayskin (descendants of the) participants of the First Battle of Chaos, followers of the Mad Sultan, or "volunteering" to join the Crimson Bat entourage (or fodder).

I believe that Lunar (and Fonritian) society is quite pragmatic in combining the various needs of their "special" population with their often quite draconic penal codes, allowing ogres to harvest death row candidates, for instance. Feeding the Bat is a known and canonical facet of this.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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I should probably also say that my comments are specific to the Lunar population in the cities, and absolutely not the rural villages.

While the rural population won't chase an obvious Chaotic with torches and pitchforks and 'accept' him for religious reasons, they sure as the Yelm's Hell don't welcome one. An overt Chaotic can probably find temporary refuge in a Seven Mothers temple, but the local rubes will subtly encourage such a person to 'move on to someplace you'll feel more comfortable'.

For that matter, you can almost bet that an overt Chaotic in a rural village off the main roads will be treated like a circus freak in certain ways. "Oooh! Lookee! See the funny man with the tentacle!", that sort of thing.

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Peloria does not have, IMO, uroxi moving around  sensing chaos, so in many cases it will not be evident if that third arm is a chaos feature, or some hard earned reward in a hero quest, or that slime some gift of a little known swamp god from the other side of the empire. In villages people will be curious and grill you on it, while in cities people will be fascinated but try to seem jaded or well educated. 

If you appear rich or powerful, people will just assume it is some exotic magic, specially if you are a member of the red party (clothes tattoos, entourage). If you look poor or sleazy, it will be considered some involuntary curse or family defect, and you will be shunned or exploited. For the above mentioned broos, people in the neighborhood will still hide female family members when they are around, but they will be encouraged to leave peacefully, rather than being pursued with torches and pitchforks.

What will shock many orlanthi is that people really do not care if that is chaotic or not, but what it does, and if it can help me or mine. Reaction to a Dorastor gray one will be similar to what they would do if a Shargashi berserker were around, leave a wide berth and watch with curiosity to see if they do anything strange and I can gossip about it with the mates in the bar/temple later. 

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33 minutes ago, JRE said:

For the above mentioned broos, people in the neighborhood will still hide female family members when they are around, but they will be encouraged to leave peacefully, rather than being pursued with torches and pitchforks.

What gave you the impression that only females are in danger of being infected with Broo larvae? The broo "ovipositor" can use any opening or incision in the future host to insert the larva, regardless of its sex.

Extra appendages aren't really known outside of magical surgery (the long perished Remakers of Dragon Pass), dangerous Hsunchen/Gorakiki/dragon magics, or Chaos Features. Conjoined twins or chimeras do exist, but will look differently.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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40 minutes ago, JRE said:

Peloria does not have, IMO, uroxi moving around  sensing chaos, so in many cases it will not be evident if that third arm is a chaos feature, or some hard earned reward in a hero quest, or that slime some gift of a little known swamp god from the other side of the empire. In villages people will be curious and grill you on it, while in cities people will be fascinated but try to seem jaded or well educated. 

If you appear rich or powerful, people will just assume it is some exotic magic, specially if you are a member of the red party (clothes tattoos, entourage). If you look poor or sleazy, it will be considered some involuntary curse or family defect, and you will be shunned or exploited. For the above mentioned broos, people in the neighborhood will still hide female family members when they are around, but they will be encouraged to leave peacefully, rather than being pursued with torches and pitchforks.

What will shock many orlanthi is that people really do not care if that is chaotic or not, but what it does, and if it can help me or mine. Reaction to a Dorastor gray one will be similar to what they would do if a Shargashi berserker were around, leave a wide berth and watch with curiosity to see if they do anything strange and I can gossip about it with the mates in the bar/temple later. 

I'll grant you that Storm Bullers are not likely going to be running around, but it seems to me that most Lunar citizens are awake enough to realize that the most likely cause of such an aberration is going to be exposure to Chaos. And if my premise on the Lunar teachings on Chaos is true ['Stay away from it unless you really know what you're doing'], most citizens will conclude that someone with a third arm, or a trail of slime, or whose skin resembles a porcupine, etc. has either willingly or unwillingly come into contact with Chaos... and avoid him entirely.

Certainly, more knowledgeable and worldly members of Lunar society will be more understanding and accepting, but that's not gonna help you get a room at a village inn. You won't be outcast, per se, but you will be pointedly avoided. Deezola's Crooked Spindle only knows what you've been up to in getting your creepy appendage, but I and my family want no part of it!

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There's "Third Hand Illumination" called out in the Guide as one of a few examples of Chaotic spaces within the Lunar Empire proper, as part of a discussion of how the average citizen rarely comes into contact with chaotic beings. So we can presume that someone who wants to engage in deliberately Chaotic body alteration would be nudged, pushed, shoved, hit over the head with a redjack and tossed onto the back of a wagon, etc. towards that school of study and put into a context where they can pursue their desires so long as they can frame it within the context of pursuing mystical awakening and transcendence. 

But regular transhumanists and body-modders might be out of luck as far as social acceptance. If we accept that revulsion at the sight of Chaotic entities is an intrinsic reaction that can only be conquered by some Illuminates. then the typical peasant, burgher, and noble alike would all be filled with thoughts of pitchforks and torches and enacting the offscreen portions of The Bacchae on our prospective self-experimenter. Which would rather limit any possible social and legal protection beyond placing them among the Illuminated and those training to suppress their innate hatreds, unlike the common folk. So it would be a choice between a monastic life and no life at all. 

That said, perhaps we don't accept this, leaving us with a blank slate on which to project our thoughts about Chaos and the Lunars. 

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Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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Well said. Typical people do not have access to a rulebook, so I doubt they will say: Extra arm? Chaotic! Specially if we reflect on how many deities are known in Peloria, and a good number of them surely sport extra limbs. Specially Lunar ones...

As I say, they do not have the knee-jerk reaction to the idea of Chaos, unlike our better known orlanthi. In Aggar you will be grilled about how did you get that, and possibly burnt if they believe you are an agent of chaos, unless a powerful, well connected Lunar. But in most of Peloria people will want to know how you got it, what you can do with it, and outside Dara Happa, does it help with sex?

We have people with all types of skin color, eye color, hair color. I am sure some devoted people have hair of flames, at least part of the time, death devotees that wither the grass they step on, priestesses that spontaneously burst into song and are always surrounded by singing birds and butterflies, swamp devotees always covered in foul smelling slime (in public), or veiled women that can kill you if you get a glimpse of their face. It would take an exceptional chaos feature to be noticeable among all of that. 

Maybe  I have taken the red pill, but if I had to use one word for typical reaction to unusual body types and appeareance in Peloria (but not in Aggar, Brolia, Carmania, Dara Happa cities, Talastar...) is Tolerance. Saird and Tarsh are trying, but they will probably consider anything weird they cannot identify  as Lunar, and be respectful as a default reaction, just in case.

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3 hours ago, JRE said:

 Maybe  I have taken the red pill, but if I had to use one word for typical reaction to unusual body types and appeareance in Peloria (but not in Aggar, Brolia, Carmania, Dara Happa cities, Talastar...) is Tolerance. Saird and Tarsh are trying, but they will probably consider anything weird they cannot identify  as Lunar, and be respectful as a default reaction, just in case.

The Empire of Light was exceptionally tolerant. Is the Lunar Empire so similar to the Empire of Light, or are their differences? 

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Rather than actual intelectual tolerance, which I think is relatively common in Peloria/the Heartlands, but not anywhere else, it is that the power structure of the Lunar Empire is based on a bunch of weirdoes, so in the Empire any weirdo might be an important imperial agent and respect has become the default response to weirdness. Unless it is clear it is a poor corrupted stickpicker, when people will default to scapegoat treatment. 

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Well, 'tolerance' isn't 'acceptance'.

Tolerance is the absence of overt persecution. Tolerance is equal protection before the law. Tolerance is society being flexible enough to find a use for someone with your, um, 'talents'.

But outside of organizational acceptance, I really do think a free-agent Chaos Feature recipient is going to have a hard time. Remember folks, in a mechanical sense, if you're being honest in your rolls, you have a 50-50 chance of having a NEGATIVE outcome on a Chaos Feature roll. And there is absolutely nothing that guarantees that even a beneficial Feature will present itself in a socially acceptable way. Your 'add 'x' AP to 'y' location' could manifest as a layer pustulent flesh, for example. As far as I know, we don't have an RQG Chaos Feature table yet, but the ones from RQ3 were NASTY. Take a look at some of the critters in the Dorestor: Land of Terror book.

And I submit to you that Lunar citizen or no, NOBODY wants to share a table with somebody who's 'Shimmer' effect is being surrounded by a thick cloud of flies.

Edited by svensson
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IMG outside specific cults and some secret societies, acceptance is quite rare. That is what usually reveals arkati and other illuminated cabals, that people who normally would not speak to each other work together. 

Tolerance is a big difference compared to the typical xenophobia, chauvinism and religious intolerance. And it is one of the keys to Lunar success. 

I would say Argrath also turns Sartar into a similar tolerant entity to fight the Empire, but using draconic influences rather than chaotic, something else that would be a no-no for a traditional orlanthi, at least following by typical reactions in the Third Age for the EWF. 

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Let's roll this back a bit. One of the clear distinctions made in the Compromise is that Chaos is not of this world. The deities and powers of the world had touched it, and were still afraid of it, and their continued existence required that they remain apart from Chaos. Chaos became the enemy which must be fought and suppressed. With one enemy recognized by everyone, the squabbling deities found a common theme for unity. 

That statement is attributed to the God Learners, but could be said by any Dawn Age Orlanthi, trolls, aldryami, mostali, Malkioni, Praxians, and Yelmites. In the late First Age, the Sun stopped in the sky and Nysalor was born. Nysalor taught that Chaos is, in itself, neither evil nor inimical. His followers used this knowledge - called Illumination - to use Chaos to further their goals. As we all know, a terrible war followed, Nysalor was torn into pieces and his cult scattered.

Centuries later, the Red Goddess met and overcame Arachne Solara and Nysalor on her great Goddess Quest. She returned from the Underworld with a Chaos god called the Crimson Bat and used Chaos to destroy her foes. She now teaches Nysalor's path to Illumination and by its faith, the Lunar Empire must accept Chaos in philosophy. The Crimson Bat is an example of how this can be done, as may be the vampire regiment rumored to be training in the mountains of Peloria. Yet many Lunar heroes gained fame by killing Vivamort cultists or smashing the slave heads of Thanatar. The awareness of the educated or sensitive concerning the proximity of Chaos makes them acutely aware of their dire responsibilities. The teachings of the Red Goddess, though passionate and fierce, strongly admonishes against certain temptations.

The Lunar Way in no way condones the worship of Chaos entities which follow the ways of Gbaji and fall into moral depravity. The religion and state do not forbid it, either, as required by their philosophy. The rulers are adroit at manipulating the results if people do fall into the way of the Chaos gods. Lunar history contains lessons of generals and priests gone bad and point them out as bad examples.

 

The world hates the Empire because it includes Chaos within its worship. This is a clear and necessary stand for the old gods to have, for their very existence is based upon the fighting of Chaos.

But the Red Goddess, born inside Time, has other options, and wisely uses them to maintain her power among the gods of the cosmos. Her secrets are woven into Balance and Time, resulting in the Lunar cycles laid upon the surface of the world.

The Lunar religion is one of unendurable freedom compared to most of the religions and societies of its time. Inner secrets reveal the immense dangers of such freedom, and Lunar disasters of over-experimentation sometimes are noted. But to attain such cosmic freedom it is necessary to include a worshipful understanding of the Chaotic bondage of mindlessness and the Void. Such concepts, though, are alien to most trained minds of the world, and proven ways of life and religion do not bend easily in the face of novelty. The Lunars, of course, consider this rigidity to be ignorance and imbalance.

It is unnecessary for Lunars to be exposed to gruesome Chaotic things, and warnings spread throughout their teachings admonish the unprepared to stay off those dismal paths. The more awful manifestations of Chaos, such as the Crimson Bat, are no more loved by loyal Lunar citizens than they are by the Empire’s enemies. But Chaotic elements are tolerated officially, and rather than knowing nothing but fear toward such monsters, Lunar citizens have the questionable surety of the words of government and religion that such horrors can be controlled.

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The fundamental issue with Chaos is that, ultimately, it has no limit or control upon it.

The preaching of the Red Goddess is of illusion, including (or perhaps especially) the illusion of Difference and Other -- We are all Us, fighting the Other is (to the Illuminated) also fighting the Self.  Even the difference of Chaos from Creation is an illusion (and thus she claims to have "tamed" the Crimson Bat, to "control" vampires & ogres among her Legions).

So, be at peace.

Sedenya is trapped in her own illusions, however:  She cannot control Chaos... or rather, Chaos is as apt to control her, as she to control it.  Eventually, inevitably, Chaos will slip all constraints and limitations.  It's unable to do otherwise.

😉

Edited by g33k
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On 3/1/2022 at 10:42 AM, EricW said:

What happens if the Lunar wants to go further? So for example, if they want a "permanent" chaos gift? Will they still be accepted by their community? What are the social or legal consequences?

They are fine, as Lunars accept Chaos.

 

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

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@Jeff

THANK YOU for the guidance on this. Using Lunars as an enemy is easy, but integrating a character like Vostor into a party is more difficult if you don't know much about the underlying beliefs of their cult. And some insight on how Lunar society handles Chaos is pretty important to a 7M cultist.

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On 3/2/2022 at 4:49 AM, svensson said:

Well, 'tolerance' isn't 'acceptance'.

Tolerance is the absence of overt persecution. Tolerance is equal protection before the law. Tolerance is society being flexible enough to find a use for someone with your, um, 'talents'.

But outside of organizational acceptance, I really do think a free-agent Chaos Feature recipient is going to have a hard time. Remember folks, in a mechanical sense, if you're being honest in your rolls, you have a 50-50 chance of having a NEGATIVE outcome on a Chaos Feature roll. And there is absolutely nothing that guarantees that even a beneficial Feature will present itself in a socially acceptable way. Your 'add 'x' AP to 'y' location' could manifest as a layer pustulent flesh, for example. As far as I know, we don't have an RQG Chaos Feature table yet, but the ones from RQ3 were NASTY. Take a look at some of the critters in the Dorestor: Land of Terror book.

And I submit to you that Lunar citizen or no, NOBODY wants to share a table with somebody who's 'Shimmer' effect is being surrounded by a thick cloud of flies.

 

There is a Chaotic Features/Curse of Thed table in both the Red Book of Magic and the Bestiary.

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On 3/1/2022 at 9:42 PM, EricW said:

Lunars have access to Chaos Gift.

That felt good - extra strength to swing a sword, greater dexterity, extra endurance to survive damage, greater intelligence or power.

What happens if the Lunar wants to go further? So for example, if they want a "permanent" chaos gift? Will they still be accepted by their community? What are the social or legal consequences?

Lunars are mainly anti-chaos in a typically Solar way.  Chaos is only safe when it falls within the ritual controls of the organs of the Imperial Lunar State (but perhaps not even then).  There are heroes of the Lunar Empire who have won their status by attacking Thanatar temples, and most Lunar cults have no chaos components.  Of course this tolerance towards the utterly inimical nature of Chaos to Glorantha and everything that lives has been made possible by the adoption of the Illumination taught by the ghost of Nysalor to the Red Goddess in hell.  Soon the Lunars will come to fully adopt the powers of Chaos when Ralzakark becomes the new Red Emperor, just as the Mad Satrap prophesied.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Darius West said:

 Soon the Lunars will come to fully adopt the powers of Chaos when Ralzakark becomes the new Red Emperor, just as the Mad Satrap prophesied.

That's a very interesting point, Lunar attitudes to chaos are not fixed, they changed over time.

So was it a gradual deterioration which led to the monster empire? Or did the ascension of Ralzakark suddenly open the floodgates?

Edited by EricW
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1 hour ago, Darius West said:

Lunars are mainly anti-chaos in a typically Solar way.  Chaos is only safe when it falls within the ritual controls of the organs of the Imperial Lunar State (but perhaps not even then).  There are heroes of the Lunar Empire who have won their status by attacking Thanatar temples, and most Lunar cults have no chaos components.  Of course this tolerance towards the utterly inimical nature of Chaos to Glorantha and everything that lives has been made possible by the adoption of the Illumination taught by the ghost of Nysalor to the Red Goddess in hell.  Soon the Lunars will come to fully adopt the powers of Chaos when Ralzakark becomes the new Red Emperor, just as the Mad Satrap prophesied.

You can make quite a career out of killing manifestations of Chaos as a Lunar. By its very nature Chaos damages society but augments [or SEVERELY damages, 50/50 chance] the individual. Only Gbaji Illumination allows Chaos to get along with a civilization, the rest of the Chaos cults [from Primal Chaos to Vivamort] seeks to destroy civilization in one manner or another. Even the most evangelical Sedenya fanatic would agree that this is, um, a 'negative outcome'.

Because of all this, I agree with @Darius West that Lunar society tolerates Chaos by controlling it: limiting its spread, managing its influence, and putting those who have Chaos Features to work for the State. A free-agent Chaotic in Lunar society had better be an ogre or someone else to can disguise their taint or else they're gonna 'recruited' by one organ of the State or another... whether they want to or not!

I could see an entire subcult of Danfive Xaron devoted to keeping Chaotics who resist the State under control. I realize that isn't in Mike Hagen's excellent RQ3 edition writeup in TotRM 16, but...

Edited by svensson
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6 minutes ago, EricW said:

So was it a gradual deterioration which led to the monster empire? Or did the ascension of Ralzakark suddenly open the floodgates?

Yes and yes.  These ideas are not mutually exclusive imo Eric y'old chaos fiend. 😉

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