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a weird question when I opened the computer...

 

I know the words are not exactly right but it will explain my question : hunshen are half men half beasts

Is there any dark-hunshen (or other word) tribes : half trolls half beasts ? I m not talking about some individual who gained  this situation (or were cursed) but people, like rathori, etc..

 

or are human the only :20-form-man: - type for hunshen ?

by the way, I noticed somewhere (or I believe) than brithini consider themselves as the true humans. Does that mean that they say that all the other human people are descendent of hunshen ?

 

I m interested by two answers : canon and personal theory, just tell me what you answer.

 

thanks gentle people !

Edited by French Desperate WindChild
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This is my opinion. No canon here.

I would say Aranea and Gorakiki are the dark troll beast cults. I am sure isolated groups will have a shaman based culture and still transform into their beast. I would not be surprised if the winged trolls of the Blue Moon were really troll-bat hybrids.

Humans have no inherent elemental association, but trolls are associated with Dark, so their beast association should be with those linked with the dark.

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I have wondered this as well. I can’t think of any examples other than the Siwafu from Maslo, who can turn into swarms of army ants. But in the Guide they are stated as “not true Fiwan” or Hsunchen.
 

Also, the Wasp Riders worship Isalla, and I’m pretty sure that her spells allow them to transform into giant wasps, so that also puts them into the shapeshifter category. 
 

Edit: just noticed you were asking about trolls specifically, whoops. But at least my two examples are arguably non-human.

Edited by Gallowglass
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1 hour ago, Gallowglass said:

just noticed you were asking about trolls specifically, whoops. But at least my two examples are arguably non-human.

yep but that's interesting. I was asking about trolls, but in fact it is more non-human, so that's good too.

the point about wasp riders is :

are they able to transform themselves because they are "people" by nature

or because they worshisp a goddess giving some transformation abilities

(so they are not hunshen, like a odayla worshipper or yinkin worshipper: they can transform even if they are not hunshen)

 

Note that I m not talking about a game design / rules (aka spell: same spell's familly for hunshen and not hunshen) but a background one

 

7 hours ago, JRE said:

I would say Aranea and Gorakiki are the dark troll beast cults. I am sure isolated groups will have a shaman based culture and still transform into their beast.

for me (am I wrong ?) they are like Odayla and Yinkin cults: your goddess gives you the possibility to transform your body. That's not because you are part of a people but because you join a cult.

7 hours ago, JRE said:

I would not be surprised if the winged trolls of the Blue Moon were really troll-bat hybrids.

Oh I know nothing about this. I will make some research about this.

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39 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

for me (am I wrong ?) they are like Odayla and Yinkin cults: your goddess gives you the possibility to transform your body. That's not because you are part of a people but because you join a cult.

 

Hsunchen practice a form of ancestor worship, and Odayla and Yinkin are noted as friendly with Daka Fal as a form of ancestor worship, so Odayla and Yinkin are closer to Hsunchen than trolls who worship Gorakiki and Aranea who still revere kygor Litor as their ancestor.

My guess is that the people who worshipped Odayla and Yinkin were originally Hsunchen but they and their gods became assimilated into Orlanthi culture.

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8 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I know the words are not exactly right but it will explain my question : hunshen are half men half beasts

Is there any dark-hsunshen (or other word) tribes : half trolls half beasts ? I m not talking about some individual who gained  this situation (or were cursed) but people, like rathori, etc..  or are human the only :20-form-man: - type for hunshen ?  by the way, I noticed somewhere (or I believe) than brithini consider themselves as the true humans. Does that mean that they say that all the other human people are descendent of hunshen ?

I like and agree with JRE on this point.  I think that Hsunchen is a term reserved for human tribes of shamanic worshippers who follow the Hykim and Mikyh traditions.  The term Hsunchen sounds like is is Kralori in origin, and we know that the Kralori worship using draconic mysticism and that H&M are dragons.  On the other hand, there are plenty of Hsunchen in the far West also.  Troll worship of Gorakiki and Aranea is based around priests not shamans, and that likely matters.  As to the Brithini, they were always looking for reasons not to be like other people.  I suspect that the idea of Hsunchen is an import of the Godlearners from Kralori, in much the same way that Shaman is an imported word into English via anthropology, and is only used to describe the human totemic tradition.  That being said, we know there is no true monomyth and everything is far more blurry than most Gloranthan academics would want to admit.

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33 minutes ago, Darius West said:

I think that Hsunchen is a term reserved for human tribes of shamanic worshippers who follow the Hykim and Mikyh traditions. 

that opens a new perspective for me.. Something  more global than I understood from @JRE

to be sure I understand your answer, do you mean that Hsunchen are just human as other, no difference except their religion/belief/philosophy/way of life ?

I did not see it anywhere before, but I probably missed it ?

 

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5 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

that opens a new perspective for me.. Something  more global than I understood from @JRE

to be sure I understand your answer, do you mean that Hsunchen are just human as other, no difference except their religion/belief/philosophy/way of life ?

I did not see it anywhere before, but I probably missed it ?

 

I think the Xeotam Dialoges kind of imply that Hsunchen abilities are geneological and get weaker with interbreeding, but I don't think Xeotam is intended to be a reliable narrator, he serves more as a kind of spokesperson for Safelstrian(?) perspectives in various Malkioni concepts. I could be wrong. 

I have to admit, I lean towards Hsunchen-status being something more than mere biological descent. Partly because that's boring and restrictive, and partly because paleolithic hunter-gatherer cultures don't majorly go for strict century-long genealogies to establish legal right of inheritance and the like. These are fluid, dynamic societes, and I think it's thematically better if Hsunchen are able to intermarry and adopt outsiders into their traditions, including shapeshifting. 

On the other hand, I also think it is neat if we can have people of biological Hsunchen descent who can "discover" their abilities. Perhaps a bit like the Seshnelan Beast Societies (although you can just as easily argue that this is a tradition thing too). 

Basically, I want my cake and eat it, and I don't think that's really a problem in this case.

Is that how Chaosium views it? No idea. 

------

As for the OP's question, I believe I also asked something similar. I wondered why only human Hsunchen existed and not Troll or Ludoch Hsunchen. 

If I recall correctly, the answer Jeff(?) had is that the Elder Races are much more closely tied to their ancestor gods, and so are more "settled" in their particular mode of culture/religion.

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3 hours ago, Darius West said:

Troll worship of Gorakiki and Aranea is based around priests not shamans,

Troll worship of these powers is not nearly so cut-and-dry, as is often the case with trolls and the relationship between theism and animism.  Per the old Troll Gods, Gorakiki hives have senior initiates called pupae, who would seem to be equivalent to priests under current Runequest rules, and the highest levels of the cult are only accessible to pupae who also become full shamans, called imagoes.

The Aranea cult hierarchy, by contrast, goes straight from lay members to initiates to shamans, called Spider Masters, no 'priestly' rank at all.

The structure of both is heavily, heavily reminiscent of the hsunchen beast cults we've seen, and neither actually makes much distinction between trolls and other potential  Man Rune cultists.

 

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I think the basic distinction between hsunchen/non-hsunchen is whether the ancestor worship is at the core of the social order or at its edges. Odayla and Yinkin worshipers are doing the same thing as Telmor or Pralor worshipers, they have the same kind of relationship, but they are at the edge of an Orlanth-centered social order where Telmori and Pralori have their own distinct social order and society. (Or for that matter, the ability of the priestly members of the Cult of the Crimson Bat to assume a bat shape is something situated entirely within Lunar social order, at the very edge of acceptability, but we can assume Pujaleg in the Sofali Isles and Laskal are doing something similar.) 

One thing that is worth pausing and considering are ducks and keets, who are liminal creatures between :20-element-fire: :20-form-beast: and :20-element-fire: :20-form-man:. But both of them are exiles from :20-element-fire:. There are some people on the other end of this, perhaps, given all the bird deities up in Peloria, but just possibly the internal shape of :20-element-fire: as a social order significantly limits the extent to which you can be a bird-person. There are a couple examples of bird hsunchen, but all distant. 

So let's turn to :20-element-darkness: and :20-element-water:. In the former case, :20-element-darkness: holds up instability of shape as an almost natural thing. Dehori have no fixed form, they're mutable, etc. I suspect that the kind of defined liminal state of hsunchenness just doesn't make sense in the :20-element-darkness:. Too many people are able to move around that multiaxial space with variable degrees of freedom for it to be useful. There are of course Wasp Riders, there are people who exist on the fringes of Uz and various human societies, but once you're in the :20-element-darkness:, there's less instrumental use for firm and hard categories. 

:20-element-water: is of course limited in our knowledge. Ludoch are intermediate between humans and cetaceans, or possibly just the toothed whales (which include dolphins and porpoises), Ouroi between humans and sirenians, Malasp and Ysabbau presumably with various types of fish, Gnydron with sea monsters, and the minor Dwerulan with eels. None of them seem to be able to change shape between their aquatic and terrestrial portions within the articulated text... but I like selkies, I can well believe that Ouroi regularly mingle in human shape. And of course, we've got the Deep One motif over in our sister BRP game, so Malasp and/or Ysabbau might well take a hominid form with a clear Innsmouth Look and also show up to the right kind of seaside parties. 

But let's assume they don't, and stick to one shape, unless they're a particular type of hypothetical Gnydron that resembles a smaller version of the Solaris living ocean. Possibly, the stability of form- the distinction between ego and vos et eos- is what tells us that we are :20-element-water: and not :20-element-darkness:. Which probably comes in handy for the octopuses and the crabs. 

There is something to note here about how there's a fundamental division between the reptiles-dinosaurs-birds and the mammals, sauropsids versus synapsids, and what that says about the relative paucity of :20-element-earth:-related hsunchen, reptile people, as opposed to :20-element-air:-related hsunchen, mammal people. But that's something to think through another time. Just like the question of whether elurae are a relic of Moon-related hsunchen.

Anyways, the summary here: I suspect the lack of hsunchen equivalents for trolls and merfolk is due to the internal dynamics of their primary elemental runes, much like how there's no :20-element-air::20-form-plant::20-form-man: people, unless there are some rare tumbleweed pixies out in Prax...

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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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One interesting example here are the Sofali, who are turtle Hsunchen. Not sure if they change shapes or have some other relationship with Sofal. Iirc, Sofal made an oceanic journey during the Lightbringer quest, so at least they cover some kind of aquatic turtle, wether it's a sea turtle or a freshwater one. 

Anyway, interesting confluence of Sea and Earth (if we lump them together with reptiles for sake of ease). 

Still lays eggs on land though, so maybe merely a "guest" of the sea.

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There are some very interesting 'hsunchen' among the fiwan peoples of Pamaltela.

To address the dearth of were-reptiles in Genertela, Pamaltela has the Ngwena crocodile people and the Yaquma, the anaconda people.

Maybe the reason one continent has were-reptiles and the other doesn't has something to do with Genert dying and Pamalt triumphing in the Gods War?

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2 minutes ago, dumuzid said:

There are some very interesting 'hsunchen' among the fiwan peoples of Pamaltela.

To address the dearth of were-reptiles in Genertela, Pamaltela has the Ngwena crocodile people and the Yaquma, the anaconda people.

Maybe the reason one continent has were-reptiles and the other doesn't has something to do with Genert dying and Pamalt triumphing in the Gods War?

There are also fire wren people and non-fiwan army ant people. And Sofali and Pujaleg, which puts us at all six elements covered. 

My root theory of hsunchen is that they're adoptees rather than "born hybrids", so I do think the differences here can be traced to Pamalt's survival and the very different late Godtime within Pamalt's Necklace.

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

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First off, Eff:  absolutely love this post, both in terms of the ideas you're expressing, and your integrating the Rune-font in!
Absolutely fantastic!

10 hours ago, Eff said:

... One thing that is worth pausing and considering are ducks and keets, who are liminal creatures between :20-element-fire: :20-form-beast: and :20-element-fire: :20-form-man:. But both of them are exiles from :20-element-fire:

I had thought that some of the "Keeting" peoples had kept the power of flight; is that mistaken?  The Ezelito, for example:  most of them vanished in the Mirror War, I think, but MGF suggests that at least a few survived; but they had no myth of losing their wings.  Also, don't the Parrot People still fly?  And -- I vaguely thought -- at least one of the heron/crane/etc wading clade was still flighted.

I mean... there's enough flightless Keetings to entirely support your point about their liminality; heck, the ducks alone do that!

I just find it a bit "samey" for  every  last  one  of them to have some version of the "then we got cursed, boo-hoo, now we cannot fly, boo-hoo, and are a tragic (don't you dare say comic!) people..."

(As an aside -- I admit I do not grasp how the most-flight'ed creatures (birds/etc, by default; and tragically not the Ducks any longer) seems to be ":20-element-fire:" rather than ":20-element-air:" when in fact they are flying in the air (and nest on the ground!), and AFAIK never reside at (or even visit!) the Sky Dome; hypothetically, I envision a separate variety of "sky birds" who fly down into the Air, from the Sky...  But that's not really germane to the Darkness-Hsunchen thread) .

It's probably worth noticing the Wind Children in this context; again, though, their non-shapeshifty existence is not helpful for the Hsunchen case.

 

10 hours ago, Eff said:

... :20-element-darkness: holds up instability of shape as an almost natural thing. Dehori have no fixed form, they're mutable, etc ...

The Kitori are an interesting case.  I think in current canon (which admittedly, mostly has yet to address the topic!), they are a Darkness tribe with both Human & Troll... but no intergrade/crossbreed forms; Rune Magic (if/when published) will give their Uz a "Become Human" spell, and humans a "Become Uz" spell.

Older sources (which may now be deprecated; I am unclear on this) suggest that they ancietly were shapeshifters who could switch between human/troll/dehori forms (they were shape-shifty / inhuman enough to have an enclave living in Dragon Pass during the Inhuman Occupation).

It's possible modern Kitori mainly give worship to Kitor, and don't claim ancestry from the prior shapeshifters; and it's possible that they DO have direct descent, and have lost the secrets of how to shapeshift (I suspect this is something Chaosium intentionally leaves a matter for each table & MGF; or maybe they just haven't gotten around to putting a pin into this specific night-moth ... ).

 

Edited by g33k
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5 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

One interesting example here are the Sofali, who are turtle Hsunchen. Not sure if they change shapes or have some other relationship with Sofal. Iirc, Sofal made an oceanic journey during the Lightbringer quest, so at least they cover some kind of aquatic turtle, wether it's a sea turtle or a freshwater one. 

Anyway, interesting confluence of Sea and Earth (if we lump them together with reptiles for sake of ease). 

Still lays eggs on land though, so maybe merely a "guest" of the sea.

They descended from turtles:

Quote

(from the Campaign Log of Sandy Petersen's Pamaltela campaign)

According to the legends of the turtle people, they did not descend from humans, but were rather turtles who acquired the power of speech and became human in shape. The leader of the people, a turtle, comes to the surface only once a year. The people themselves dispense justice by not talking to the offender if the offense is minor, or driving him away if it is major.

 

Non-cannon, but fun. I don't remember it being said that they could change into turtles, but they did ride them, and IIRC, they reincarnated into turtles.

SDLeary

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OMG, what a topic!

It seems lots of people have been pondering the same questions. Here are some of the headings from the dedicated Hsunchen Q&A section in the forthcoming Jonstown Compendium release, The Book of Hsunchen:

  • Why do some Hsunchen eat their beast brothers, but not others?
  • Why are all Hsunchen humans and not related non-human users of the Man rune e.g. trolls, elves, Triolini?
  • Why are Hsunchen mostly mammals?
  • What differentiates animals from people in Glorantha?
  • What makes Hsunchen different from Praxians?
  • What makes Hsunchen different from beastmen?
  • What makes Hsunchen different from other shape-changers, such as fox-women?

The draft book currently has six pages of answers to these and other questions.

Here is the draft text answering the question heading up this thread:

Quote

 

There are, so far as we know, no elves, trolls, dwarfs, Triolini or any other Gloranthan humanoids connected to the Man rune who have the Hsunchen link with a beast totem. Those trolls who worship Gorakiki can transform into darkness animals (giant insects), but don’t see them as close kin. It is not a totemic connection, but a privilege granted through the close relationship between the darkness entities.

The Triolini generally have partial animal form; cetoi (such as the Ludoch) have dolphin or seal hind-parts; and piscoi have fish hind-parts . All of these are descended directly from the Water gods, some through dalliances with other deities.

There’s a kind of evolutionary tree lurking within the system Gloranthan system of Form runes. Setting aside the primal Dragon Rune :20-god-Godunya:, we have the following. The Dragonewt Rune :20-form-dragon: came first. In the Green Age, the gods first introduced the Plant Rune :20-form-plant:; then the Animal or Beast Rune :20-form-beast:; and finally, the Man Rune :20-form-man:. See Glorantha Sourcebook, page 87.

My God Learner thought is that the source of the Man Rune can be found directly in the Beast Rune, and that the genesis of the new Rune was a process of teasing out the essence of a particular kind of beast, or a potential from amongst the beasts. The earliest humans were not really separate from the beasts that they came from; they could appear in either form, as they themselves explored their new potential.

Some races, including some types of human, have a different origin. The Aldryami grow directly from the Plant Rune, “extracting” the humanoid form and characteristics from a different source. The trolls are, ultimately the direct descendants of a particular deity. There are human peoples who descend from or who were made by deities e.g., the Agimori.

My view is simply that the origins of the generic humans lie within the Beast Rune, and this etymology explains directly why they are the only Hsunchen. No other humanoid races (trolls, elves etc) were made directly from beasts in this manner, and that’s why there are no non-human Hsunchen.

 

Any thoughts? Does the above make sense?

I'll pick up on some other points in a separate reply.

Edited by Brian Duguid
fixed typo
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The Silver best-selling The Children of Hykim offers over 150 pages on Glorantha's shape-changing totemic animal people, the Hsunchen. "Magisterial ... highly recommended" - Nick Brooke. "An amazing labor of love" - Evan Franke, Exploring Glorantha. "A deep dive" - Joerg Baumgartner. "Excellent sourcebook, well-written and well-researched" - Niall Sullivan.

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On 4/12/2022 at 7:23 AM, French Desperate WindChild said:

by the way, I noticed somewhere (or I believe) than brithini consider themselves as the true humans. Does that mean that they say that all the other human people are descendent of hunshen ?

See Tales of the Reaching Moon #9, page 35, which has this:

Quote

According to our oldest records, the Brithini once claimed to be the descendants of the only ‘true’ humans on Glorantha … it is well known among Western scholars that the Brithini refer to almost all non-Western races as ‘animal-men’, or, more precisely, ‘animals with human form’ … during the Golden Age, when they were much more open, the Brithini claimed that as they had travelled around the world they ‘awakened’ various animals and taught them to assume human form. This was apparently their explanation for the origin of the Hsunchen, and no-one knows if it is true. Some of these animal-men then proceeded to lose touch with their beast-selves and attempted to imitate human ways and even civilization, especially the ape-men and monkey-people.

Whether this is just Brithini racism, and an attempt to deny their own origins, or is in some sense true, I offer no view. 

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The Silver best-selling The Children of Hykim offers over 150 pages on Glorantha's shape-changing totemic animal people, the Hsunchen. "Magisterial ... highly recommended" - Nick Brooke. "An amazing labor of love" - Evan Franke, Exploring Glorantha. "A deep dive" - Joerg Baumgartner. "Excellent sourcebook, well-written and well-researched" - Niall Sullivan.

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19 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

for me (am I wrong ?) they are like Odayla and Yinkin cults: your goddess gives you the possibility to transform your body. That's not because you are part of a people but because you join a cult.

I offer the thought that it could be the other way round: the people who are drawn to these two cults are the people whose Rathori or Rinkoni lineage resurfaces. I believe that Odayla and Yinkin are Heortling "perspectives" on the bear and bobcat/lynx entities (which are themselves personifications of Beast sub-runes, such as the bear rune :20-god-odayla:), embodying a range of different mythic truths about the same things. I may be reading too much into this, but observe that Pralor, Rathor, Telmor and Basmol will all be cults in the forthcoming Cults of Glorantha, but that only three of those have specific Rune spells in Red Book of Magic. Perhaps because the magic of Odayla and Rathor is identical?

18 hours ago, JustAnotherVingan said:

My guess is that the people who worshipped Odayla and Yinkin were originally Hsunchen but they and their gods became assimilated into Orlanthi culture.

Assimilated, sure, but also discovered different truths that the Hsunchen did not. There are myths about Odayla and Yinkin which the Rathori and Rinkoni do not share, and would even reject. Like seeing different views of the same thing refracted through a series of cultural prisms.

18 hours ago, Darius West said:

I think that Hsunchen is a term reserved for human tribes of shamanic worshippers who follow the Hykim and Mikyh traditions.  The term Hsunchen sounds like is is Kralori in origin, and we know that the Kralori worship using draconic mysticism and that H&M are dragons.  On the other hand, there are plenty of Hsunchen in the far West also.  Troll worship of Gorakiki and Aranea is based around priests not shamans, and that likely matters.  As to the Brithini, they were always looking for reasons not to be like other people.  I suspect that the idea of Hsunchen is an import of the Godlearners from Kralori, in much the same way that Shaman is an imported word into English via anthropology, and is only used to describe the human totemic tradition.  That being said, we know there is no true monomyth and everything is far more blurry than most Gloranthan academics would want to admit.

All good, but also note the Fiwan creation myths in Revealed Mythologies. In the beginning there were sixteen Fiwan peoples, and “they could take the shape of humans or animals” or “were both people and animals at the same time”. Several of the "founding" Fiwan peoples listed in that source are specific Hsunchen analogues: lion, frog, fish eagle, sun fish, eland, vulture, turtle, milk antelope, anaconda and fire wren; those are all Fiwan/Hsunchen peoples described in Guide to Glorantha. Two of the other original Fiwan (rhinoceros and otter) may have different analogues in later Gloranthan ages (Rascullu and the otters of Maniria). Revealed Mythologies even goes as far as to tell us that “the migrated Fiwan are the Genertelan Hsunchen”.

So there are multiple "ideas" of the Hsunchen: the Fiwan myths from Pamaltela, the descent of the Hsunchen from Korgatsu in Kralorela, and the labelling by the Brithini of other humans as being in their eyes sub-human Hykimi in the West.

All this is another section in the Book of Hsunchen, of course 😄.

17 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I think the Xeotam Dialoges kind of imply that Hsunchen abilities are geneological and get weaker with interbreeding, but I don't think Xeotam is intended to be a reliable narrator, he serves more as a kind of spokesperson for Safelstrian(?) perspectives in various Malkioni concepts. I could be wrong. 

In Revealed Mythologies, we are told that the Fiwan went all over the world, some even living on the “Enemy Mountain” and in the snow lands. “If they ever took up worship or sorcery, they ceased to be Fiwan”. So this is a common perspective, and one also in evidence with all the post-Hsunchen peoples who took up agriculture e.g. the Enjoreli, Entruli, Pendali, Bemuri, Enerali, Redeli etc. Did they lose their "Hsunchen-ness" because of interbreeding, or because they broke their ancient taboos by enslaving beasts and breaking the skin of the Earth? I think it's more the latter.

17 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I have to admit, I lean towards Hsunchen-status being something more than mere biological descent. Partly because that's boring and restrictive, and partly because paleolithic hunter-gatherer cultures don't majorly go for strict century-long genealogies to establish legal right of inheritance and the like. These are fluid, dynamic societes, and I think it's thematically better if Hsunchen are able to intermarry and adopt outsiders into their traditions, including shapeshifting. 

On the other hand, I also think it is neat if we can have people of biological Hsunchen descent who can "discover" their abilities. Perhaps a bit like the Seshnelan Beast Societies (although you can just as easily argue that this is a tradition thing too). 

In the Book of Hsunchen, I've written up one tribe as having gone extinct and then been revived (several times) as evidence that anyone can be adopted into a Hsunchen people, that it need not be hereditary. In the forthcoming Cults of Glorantha, I believe it will give details of how people can be adopted into Hsunchen cults, by giving up ties to other religions, sorcery etc, and undergoing an adoption ritural (not always successful!) I've also included several ideas and campaign threads about how people can "discover" that they have Hsunchen inheritance, especially amongst the Martial Beast Societies (who practice a highly degraded form of Hsunchen rites), the Ancient Beast Societies (who explicitly aspire to it), and the Serpent Beast Masters (I'll keep some secrets about my non-canon thoughts there, if I may).

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The Silver best-selling The Children of Hykim offers over 150 pages on Glorantha's shape-changing totemic animal people, the Hsunchen. "Magisterial ... highly recommended" - Nick Brooke. "An amazing labor of love" - Evan Franke, Exploring Glorantha. "A deep dive" - Joerg Baumgartner. "Excellent sourcebook, well-written and well-researched" - Niall Sullivan.

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12 hours ago, Eff said:

I think the basic distinction between hsunchen/non-hsunchen is whether the ancestor worship is at the core of the social order or at its edges.

I'd say it's between whether they know that they are kin to their animals, or they don't. It's a question of identity more than of lineage or worship. Shamanism here is their path to self-discovery. I'm not sure that the difference between Rathor and Odayla is that of the centrality of their bear-relationship to their culture. I think it's more fundamental: the Rathori live amongst bears, because they believe they are bears. The Odaylans live on the edge of humanity, because the traditions of their theist cult are inseparable from that human society's broader mythology.

13 hours ago, Eff said:

There are a couple examples of bird hsunchen, but all distant. 

Quite a few still extant: fish eagle, green heron, vultures, woodpeckers, fire wren, and (depending on your willingness to adopt older "canon") snow eagles. Extinct or mysterious examples include the Diving Loon Fiwan, the jungle hen people in Kralorela etc. Our view of the Hsunchen is conditioned by the western and central Genertelan experience. Not that I think any of this lot have any relationship to the ducks or keets, though, I do think they are something entirely separate, perhaps more like the baboons or Manirian otters in nature.

13 hours ago, Eff said:

There is something to note here about how there's a fundamental division between the reptiles-dinosaurs-birds and the mammals, sauropsids versus synapsids, and what that says about the relative paucity of :20-element-earth:-related hsunchen, reptile people, as opposed to :20-element-air:-related hsunchen, mammal people. But that's something to think through another time.

The prevalence of mammal Hsunchen is one of my Q&A in the Book of Hsunchen. Not sure I want to spell out my answer on that one just yet, I may need to keep some reasons for people to buy the book when it comes out 😆

 

11 hours ago, dumuzid said:

To address the dearth of were-reptiles in Genertela, Pamaltela has the Ngwena crocodile people and the Yaquma, the anaconda people.

Maybe the reason one continent has were-reptiles and the other doesn't has something to do with Genert dying and Pamalt triumphing in the Gods War?

Maybe. Or perhaps related to the migration of (some) Fiwan north into the "snow lands" mentioned in Revealed Mythologies. That doesn't sound like a journey the reptile Hsunchen would have survived, it sounds like one for those beasts or beast-peoples who were warm-blooded.

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The Silver best-selling The Children of Hykim offers over 150 pages on Glorantha's shape-changing totemic animal people, the Hsunchen. "Magisterial ... highly recommended" - Nick Brooke. "An amazing labor of love" - Evan Franke, Exploring Glorantha. "A deep dive" - Joerg Baumgartner. "Excellent sourcebook, well-written and well-researched" - Niall Sullivan.

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In my opinion hsunchen, though it is a Kralori term, is actually a God Learner concept, and they joined together peoples that themselves have very different origin myths. Being the meddlers they were, and that they liked to tidy other peoples myths, I would expect that the fact that hsunchen have similar structures and myths could simply be a God Learner project.

In the same way, and based on Troll Gods, as pointed out by Dumuzid, though it may become obsolete soon, Gorakiki and Aranea are shamanic cults that I am sure the God Learners would have classed as troll-hsunchen. I would propose that Darkness actually makes it easier for troll hsunchen (darkness people who are both children of KL and Aranea, for instance, as shown by Cragspider) to integrate in the normal society, rather than a fringe culture. Trolls consider normal sex and procreation with spirits or creatures humans would not consider possible (Pikat Yaraboom comes to mind, or Cragspider using dehori on uzko volunteers).

As in the Fronelan discussion, as the first option I prefer to take the culture myths at face value, so I do not believe in a single origin for the animal humans, and I expect that some are animals that imitate humans, others are humans that mixed with animals, and finally others are humans that survived the horrors of the darkness by adopting animal ways. But in all cases mixed with ancestor worship, the first culture heroes that started living this way, or discivered the magic that make this possible.

That will bring up different customs and taboos, such as eating or not the totem animal, having sex or not with the totem animal (shapechanged, or in some cases without), and whether adoption is easy or if it requires an ancestor, which is still possible for the magically savvy, but much more difficult.

The Blue Plateau trolls have Moon in addition to Dark, and bats seem one of the few animals associated with the Moon rune, so I had a sudden insight that a pseudo-hsunchen spell would make trolls with wings without needing to change anything else.

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22 minutes ago, JRE said:

As in the Fronelan discussion, as the first option I prefer to take the culture myths at face value, so I do not believe in a single origin for the animal humans, and I expect that some are animals that imitate humans, others are humans that mixed with animals, and finally others are humans that survived the horrors of the darkness by adopting animal ways. But in all cases mixed with ancestor worship, the first culture heroes that started living this way, or discivered the magic that make this possible.

That will bring up different customs and taboos, such as eating or not the totem animal, having sex or not with the totem animal (shapechanged, or in some cases without), and whether adoption is easy or if it requires an ancestor, which is still possible for the magically savvy, but much more difficult.

Variation is definitely good, and I'm also keen to take culture myths and beliefs at face value, but I've not found much (if anything) in the current lore to support some of the options above. I have found plenty that backs up the "traditional" Hsunchen template and related myths. But there aren't any official stories (yet) of Hsunchen tribes who believe anything other than that they descended directly from animal ancestors.

The Flari owl-folk may be an interesting counter-example (GtG: "humans who can turn into owls"), depending how you want to read it, and I'm certainly taking them to differ from other Hsunchen peoples in their nature. The Puma People of Heroquest: Roleplaying in Glorantha are another: explicitly stated not to be Hsunchen, yet they are evidently were-pumas who "work" in an almost identical way.

It may be that the God Learnerism "Hsunchen" captures shapechangers who have arrived at a common Beast/Man juncture through different routes, but whose relationship to the various Beast sub-runes inevitably brings with it a common mythic underlay.

I don't see ancestor cults as being a consistent focus to Hsunchen life, this being something that will vary. They generally revere their titular totem spirit (Mralota, Pralor etc) as their ultimate ancestor, but Hykimi/Mikyhi cults don't generally offer the ancestor-related magic associated with Daka Fal. Although, as always, there are exceptions.

Good to see variant perspectives, in any case.

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The Silver best-selling The Children of Hykim offers over 150 pages on Glorantha's shape-changing totemic animal people, the Hsunchen. "Magisterial ... highly recommended" - Nick Brooke. "An amazing labor of love" - Evan Franke, Exploring Glorantha. "A deep dive" - Joerg Baumgartner. "Excellent sourcebook, well-written and well-researched" - Niall Sullivan.

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Re-reading the Aranea cult descriptions from both RQ2 and RQ3 I think it's clear there is a differentiation between spiders and human/troll worshippers that is very different to the Hsunchen. Intelligent spiders are automatically initiates of Aranea. Humans and trolls are not, and "must pass the usual test". The aim of the Spider Masters is to "glorify" the spiders. There's absolutely no suggestion that they see each other as kin. The Gorakiki write-ups take the same approach.

Contrast the Hsunchen cult of Telmor: both adult wolves and adult Telmori see themselves as kin, and both are automatically initiates of the Telmor cult. The same is true of every other Hsunchen cult we've seen described: outsiders may be adopted, but Hsunchen adult status is fundamentally a matter of identity, not of chosen worship.

This is not to say there could not be trolls (or humans) who believe themselves to be kin to spiders, or to one of the Gorakiki insect species. There are references in the RQ2 Gorakiki cult to the insect-people of Pamaltela who worship Gorakiki as an ancestral being. In the RQ3 version it's clarified that this refers to the Timinits. In the RQ3 book, there is mention both of spider-Hsunchen and insect-worshipping Hsunchen, but I think both have been retconned out of existence unless the fire ant people of Pamaltela count.

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The Silver best-selling The Children of Hykim offers over 150 pages on Glorantha's shape-changing totemic animal people, the Hsunchen. "Magisterial ... highly recommended" - Nick Brooke. "An amazing labor of love" - Evan Franke, Exploring Glorantha. "A deep dive" - Joerg Baumgartner. "Excellent sourcebook, well-written and well-researched" - Niall Sullivan.

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2 hours ago, JRE said:

In my opinion hsunchen, though it is a Kralori term, is actually a God Learner concept, and they joined together peoples that themselves have very different origin myths. Being the meddlers they were, and that they liked to tidy other peoples myths, I would expect that the fact that hsunchen have similar structures and myths could simply be a God Learner project.

 

The first part of that is all but confirmed, I think. The latter is a great nugget to think on and spin from.

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1 hour ago, Brian Duguid said:

unless the fire ant people of Pamaltela count.

The Guide includes the Siwafu Army Ant People with the sentient giant apes of the Haxamu Jungle as examples of Pamaltelan beings that are wrongly conflated with fiwan.  Something else seems to be going on there; just what is a mystery.  They sound like quite fearsome foes or allies for Darkness-friendly Pamaltelan campaigns though.

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