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The line between Chaos and not Chaos


Ironwall

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What exactly is the line when is something cruelty and selfishness and when is something chaos. Is this even a line or is it a blurry image? Gargathi tortures people to create whirlveshes but they aren't chaos so when is something chaos?

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Something is Chaos when it has a connection to the Chaos rune. It's not always an obvious distinction, but it is a pretty definite one. Chaos isn't caused by or the source of immorality or evil, though the majority of Chaos things probably are. Though people often blame things they don't like on Chaos, regardless of whether or not it's actually Chaotic.

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It depends on where you are. For most of Glorantha Chaos is the external foe, the one you can never compromise. Most peoples will label as Chaos what they consider as enemies, even if it is not really connected with the Chaos rune. Many westerners put trolls and broos in the same category, krjalki, while trolls are clearly anti-chaos rune, for instance. Some cultures will label adultery as chaotic, and others not. In the ones that consider it chaotic, engaging in it may well link you to Chaos for real. 

Mythically Chaos is anything or anyone that breaks the rules of the universe. So rulebreakers are often considered as chaotic by the powers that be. That is the basis of the Lunar approach, that to evolve and change, to break the stagnation of the Godtime, you need Chaos, even if most of its manifestations melt flesh and break minds. That brings up the paradox of an Empire built on breaking rules pursuing their own rulebreakers, with nasty consequences.

Connection with the Chaos rune allows you to do impossible things, and that is attractive to some, but breaking reality is very difficult to control, and you end up breaking other things too if you are not careful, including your body or your mind. It also marks you with the Chaos rune, that some people can detect and usually react with extreme prejudice. Even with good intentions, if the whole world seems against you and treats you like a monster, you will become a monster.

It is not clear if being connected with Chaos makes you chaotic, or being chaotic links you with the Chaos rune. Probably both, which is why Illumination works to hide your inherent chaos, as you realise it is mostly a social construct with an underlying objective reality when you break the world's inherent rules rather than society's. 

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13 hours ago, Ironwall said:

Is this even a line or is it a blurry image? Gargathi tortures people to create whirlveshes but they aren't chaos so when is something chaos?

The short answer for me is really that things get Chaotic when you want to involve Chaos in your game 😄 

But really IMHO everything is scales of grey. Some acts just feed the general Chaotic-ness of the universe. Other acts create bad omens and Chaos attacks or infiltrates the community on the next season. Yet other acts (possibly done repeatedly) taint a person with Chaos in the sense that they get a Chaos Rune at, say, 20% or whatever.  So I don't think there's a "line", except for the line that a community draws. For example, most Orlanthi tribes will "draw a line" at secret murder, kinstrife, rape, incest, and so on, in the sense that "it's wrong and you get punished". But it's not a line where suddenly if you do one of those things you become Chaotic. The two are vaguely related but not the same. Society draws a line because past that line is a slippery slope. And how soon that slope leads you into Chaos is frankly up to the GM and the needs of the story. It's *Chaos* after all. It's not supposed to manifest and act in a logical "if this then that" sort of way, that would defeat the whole bit about being, you know, Chaotic.

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12 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

... For example, most Orlanthi tribes will "draw a line" at secret murder, kinstrife, rape, incest, and so on, in the sense that "it's wrong and you get punished". But it's not a line where suddenly if you do one of those things you become Chaotic. The two are vaguely related but not the same. Society draws a line because past that line is a slippery slope. And how soon that slope leads you into Chaos is frankly up to the GM and the needs of the story. It's *Chaos* after all. It's not supposed to manifest and act in a logical "if this then that" sort of way, that would defeat the whole bit about being, you know, Chaotic.

IMG, the "line" is a bit more upslope; that list of crimes (secret murder ... and so on) isn't merely a "line" beyond which is the slippery slope to Chaos, but well-launched down the slide.

Those criminals are vastly more-likely to be Chaotic than is the average Orlanthi.  It is by no means a sure thing!  But it's orders of magnitude more likely.

 

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14 hours ago, Ironwall said:

What exactly is the line when is something cruelty and selfishness and when is something chaos.

Something is Chaotic if Storm Bulls can Sense it.

If they can't Sense Chaos then it isn't Chaos.

There has been a recent trend, over the last 20 years or so, where performing despicable acts makes you Chaotic.

Personally, I don't really subscribe to that idea. For me, Chaos is more absolute.

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1 hour ago, g33k said:

Those criminals are vastly more-likely to be Chaotic than is the average Orlanthi. 

IMG you probably don't get a Chaos Rune rating the second after you kill your brother. Like I said, I don't see Chaos as a logical state machine, nor do I see Chaos as equal to "evil things". But if that happens in your Glorantha that's fine too!

FWIW, see my adventure "A Short Detour" on the Jonstown Compendium, which includes an essay on Chaos, and Chaos taint rules!

Edited by lordabdul

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Things that are both Chaotic and non-Chaotic:

-Cannibalism
-Reanimating the dead
-Devouring, annihilating, or in some way removing a soul from the normal cycle of life and death

In conclusion, the line between that which is Chaos and that which isn't is perhaps very highly socially constructed- if you can construct a social order of cannibalism (Cannibal Cult), or reanimating zombies (Zorak Zoran), or of holding up the annihilation of souls as a natural phenomenon (draconism), you're not Chaotic, but if you're just an ogre or a vampire or a flayed bat, that's real rough, buddy. 

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from my opinion, something chaotic happens when  an action is believed chaotic by the author, the victim or the observers (observing during the action or after)

observers could be a lot of things (people, spirits, gods, ...) aka observers is the GM

so if people believe cannibalism is a chaotic fact, that becomes a chaotic fact, and chaos happens (not in the next second of course)

if people consider this particulary cannibalism action as non chaotic, then that doesn't become a chaotic fact.

the chaos may happen in three ways:

1) curse, and now there are new chaotic monsters in the neigbourhood (succube, broos, gorps ...)

2) the author gains % in the chaos rune

3) both 1) and 2)

 

that's just my opinion, but it explains why some actions are in some circumstances chaotic and in some non chaotic.

 

 

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3 hours ago, lordabdul said:

IMG you probably don't get a Chaos Rune rating the second after you kill your brother...

Agreed; but the chance that you  do  is... non-trivial, even if not probable.
Like... how many people actually want to play Russian Roulette with the 1:6 chance of death?  You "probably" won't die after all!

Additionally, it's a signal that you may already have been Chaotic.

Edited by g33k
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6 hours ago, g33k said:

Agreed; but the chance that you  do  is... non-trivial, even if not probable.
Like... how many people actually want to play Russian Roulette with the 1:6 chance of death?  You "probably" won't die after all!

Additionally, it's a signal that you may already have been Chaotic.

For me as a GM, Chaos is how the PREDARK appears inside the cosmos, is a wound in the cosmos where life itself leaks into the void. That wound appears because the "the logic" of the world has been weaked to the breaking point. The patterns that where established at the creation and that keep the world and I call LAW has been weaked so much that it is as if there were a hole. 

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As indicated by Eff more clearly than in my rambling response, although I do not believe in moral relativism in the Real World, I do believe it works in Glorantha.

So yes, a true believer orlanthi will link to the chaos rune by doing things that a Vadeli may well consider Law. That is the explanation of the strange interaction between illumination and chaos. I also believe that Arachne Solara's Great Compromise brings chaos as a constituent part of the world, so all creatures born/created in Time have the potential for Chaos, so they can link with it spontaneously. Which is why the orlanthi are doomed to fail, as Chaos cannot be purged from the world. it has to be accepted.

How that plays in the long term when Heroes use Chaos to break the compromise itself is more difficult to forecast. But as the entrance of Chaos in the Universe is in the Godtime, isolating the Godtime from the world may well eliminate any concentrated chaos, remaining only Kajaboor's entropy, already integrated and dispersed in the fabric of Glorantha.

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11 hours ago, JRE said:

... Which is why the orlanthi are doomed to fail, as Chaos cannot be purged from the world. it has to be accepted.

Foul Lunar propaganda!
🙃

More seriously -- it probably cannot be purged (but heroquesting is sometimes about achieving the impossible, so...) .   But "just accepting it" is a different proposition entirely.

You may instead need to "accept" that the fight against Chaos will never end, as "ultimate" victory cannot be achieved; but the fight must still be maintained, as Chaos' dangers must be contained and limited.

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On 4/27/2022 at 11:30 PM, g33k said:

Agreed; but the chance that you  do  is... non-trivial, even if not probable.
Like... how many people actually want to play Russian Roulette with the 1:6 chance of death?  You "probably" won't die after all!

Additionally, it's a signal that you may already have been Chaotic.

In my game rape and non-ritual cannibalism are treated a little like accepting a chaos feature. They give a chance of your becoming chaotic and changed in some way.

The change won't be instant if it occurs. A rapist may find that over a period of a season they change into a broo.

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I suppose you play with Orlanthi, and from what we know from that culture it is perfectly correct. But I cannot accept it as an absolute truth, as Glorantha is much more complex. What if the characters are Tusk Riders, raiding a village? Or a troll matriarch, that surely can order any non-hero troll male to have sex with her and may well eat him afterwards if she is not satisfied, or if she is a Gorakiki mantis shaman?

Are Vadeli chaotic? From their point of view, I am sure that no. From an Orlanthi perspective, they look like it, but they will not sense as chaotic to an Uroxi. IMG, of course, but our references support it.

Magic is belief. Rune associations are also a matter of belief. And belief in Glorantha affects physically the world. The horror comes when you realize the Kingdom of War rapists and cannibals are sure they are righteous, and the universe agrees with them giving them the power to kill even more and by not making them chaotic.

That way lies illumination and madness, when you realize it is all relative, and that you can exploit the magic to do whatever you want.

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The other element to realize, of course -- if we're gonna get all "meta" and Godlearner-y about things -- is that Chaos is actually essential to the world.

And (and here's the kicker) it always has been.  Long before the Unholy Trio enacted their foul rites, before the Gods picked up their strands of Arachne Solara's chaos-binding Net; before even Godtime began:  the world of Glorantha emerged... from Chaos (many say the Darkness was the "First Rune," although some debate that; virtually everyone admits that the First Rune emerged from Chaos however!).

Moreover, Chaos is the raw stuff of creation (as well as destruction, and change/mutation).  Down somewhere in the depths of the underworld is the Chaosium itself, and (as best is known) always has been.  The eternal umbilicus which connects Glorantha to infinite creation and renewal and vitality (and, undoubtedly, less-good stuff as well).

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5 hours ago, g33k said:

The other element to realize, of course -- if we're gonna get all "meta" and Godlearner-y about things -- is that Chaos is actually essential to the world.

And (and here's the kicker) it always has been.  Long before the Unholy Trio enacted their foul rites, before the Gods picked up their strands of Arachne Solara's chaos-binding Net; before even Godtime began:  the world of Glorantha emerged... from Chaos (many say the Darkness was the "First Rune," although some debate that; virtually everyone admits that the First Rune emerged from Chaos however!).

Moreover, Chaos is the raw stuff of creation (as well as destruction, and change/mutation).  Down somewhere in the depths of the underworld is the Chaosium itself, and (as best is known) always has been.  The eternal umbilicus which connects Glorantha to infinite creation and renewal and vitality (and, undoubtedly, less-good stuff as well).

 

Quote

Before the universe was created, all was Chaos. Do not think from this that Chaos is a necessary part of creation. Lack of Chaos was the necessary part of creation! Chaos had to be peeled away to expose the World Egg. The world existed in its best and most pleasant forms before any Chaos intruded – the Green Age, the Golden Age, even the raw power of the Storm Age, all were spoiled and their works undone when Chaos entered the world. Now, bits of Chaos still remain in our universe in dark corners, like a blood infection that has never truly gone away, like a wound that still bleeds. Chaos is not the antithesis of creation, it is the antithesis of existence. Chaos is oblivion.

 

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8 minutes ago, Ormi Phengaria said:
Quote

Before the universe was created, all was Chaos. Do not think from this that Chaos is a necessary part of creation. Lack of Chaos was the necessary part of creation! Chaos had to be peeled away to expose the World Egg. The world existed in its best and most pleasant forms before any Chaos intruded – the Green Age, the Golden Age, even the raw power of the Storm Age, all were spoiled and their works undone when Chaos entered the world. Now, bits of Chaos still remain in our universe in dark corners, like a blood infection that has never truly gone away, like a wound that still bleeds. Chaos is not the antithesis of creation, it is the antithesis of existence. Chaos is oblivion.

 

That is, of course, an in-character / in-world POV.
If you wish it to be true -- at your table, In Your Glorantha -- it is of course true!
(Be aware that other in-world accounts will differ; Glorantha is intentionally self-contradictory)

Obviously, Glorantha is "mostly" not-Chaos; this broad "lack of Chaos" is pretty much the definition of the emergence of Glorantha!  But do not confuse the broad sweep of cosmic generality with absolute "purity" or with an absence of any and all Chaos!

The Darkness preceded all those -- the Green Age, the Golden Age -- and nobody has ever cataloged everything in the Darkness.

The Chaosium was always there.  Before the Green Age, or Aldrya.  Before the Golden Age, or Emperor Yelm.

Always.
(ygmv; mine does too)

Edited by g33k
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It is true. The perspective that creation is ultimately tied to chaos in some manner is also true. Contradictions between Gloranthan perspectives are not usually resolved by ignoring them, but by discovering the means by which they can coexist. That is traditionally the proclivity of the mad and the mystical.

Chaos is oblivion-- it is not merely raw, unfiltered creation tohu wa-bohu, but truly is non-existence. The great transcendent Nothing is like Everything, and is connected to it, but that connection is not itself chaos. This is the first division; these are the cosmic twins, and though like any other pair of opposites they can be reunified, this does not abrogate the fact that chaos is oblivion.

This is the most common and immediate danger of Illumination. It is revealed to the Illuminate that chaos is not inimical to existence, which is true. Oblivion is not inimical to existence, in that absolute beyond the absolute, but this insight is drawn down into the world of time, and engenders the gravely mistaken assumption that oblivion and creation are mutually generative phenomena. They are not. The only thing it can do is make the world less than it is.

And worth noting here: the Void is "less than nothingness."

Edited by Ormi Phengaria
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I think there are three different definition of what is named chaos in glorantha

1) the raw material: the mixed soup in perpetual move and immobility. All possibilities including the nothing

something without any consciousness, will or power, without any morale value because there is no sense of morale. Just potential

 

2) the guys (gods, mortals , or anything) who are dedicated to evil behaviors, destruction suffering annihilation . They understand the sense of morale value and they are against it *  those accept and choose their way


3) the guys who are tainted, not because they dedicate their life to evil behaviors but by accident / heir / bad choice. those are cursed

 

* note that implies two things :

- One morale value is no universal : something could be acceptable by a community and absolutely taboo by another one. So the chaotic status of a behavior depends on the community

- chaos gods, except if they want their own destruction, will not try to send all glorantha in the primal chaos soup (no more existence no more suffering no more chaos god)

 

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Chaos and order are primal opposites like light and dark. In the real world, people pine for things like order and justice in an amoral, indifferent universe of formless chaos. Good people suffer and wicked people prosper. That's the nature of chaos. The absence of the order and justice that we pine for.

Camus called the difference between our longing and the reality 'the Absurd.' In the Book of Job, Satan is an allegorical representation of that cruel indifference of the universe, or chaos if you like. Job is a good, pious man, but it makes no difference. God's favour is not transactional, and he won't protect you from the chaotic nature of the universe.

 

 

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On 4/27/2022 at 3:11 PM, Ironwall said:

What exactly is the line when is something cruelty and selfishness and when is something chaos. Is this even a line or is it a blurry image? Gargathi tortures people to create whirlveshes but they aren't chaos so when is something chaos?

It is probably better to think of Chaos like a form of biological taint which can sometimes produce superpower mutations (or awful crippling effects).  Chaotic creatures use those overwhelmingly destructive powers for bad purposes, so nearly everyone hates them.

5 hours ago, Trollkin Philosopher said:

Chaos and order are primal opposites like light and dark. In the real world, people pine for things like order and justice in an amoral, indifferent universe of formless chaos. Good people suffer and wicked people prosper. That's the nature of chaos. The absence of the order and justice that we pine for.

In Glorantha, Chaos and Law are not really opposites in that way.  Arrquong the Harbinger of Chaos is famously fond of Sorcerers of the West, whose deity carries the Law rune, famously saying that "the men of the West never did us any wrong".  In Glorantha, there is a different dynamic going on, and it is the forces of Disorder who are the major adversaries of Chaos.  This is because Glorantha is about escalation, and the disorder deities are presently dominant in the world, having already subverted and conquered the "lawful" forces during the Lesser Darkness.  Chaos arrives in the Greater Darkness, and it is Disorder that is its foe.  The way Greg put it, you become like the enemy you fight... Fight the Kingdom of War, become the Kingdom of War.

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Just now, Darius West said:

It is probably better to think of Chaos like a form of biological taint which can sometimes produce superpower mutations (or awful crippling effects).  Chaotic creatures use those overwhelmingly destructive powers for bad purposes, so nearly everyone hates them.

In Glorantha, Chaos and Law are not really opposites in that way.  Arrquong the Harbinger of Chaos is famously fond of Sorcerers of the West, whose deity carries the Law rune, famously saying that "the men of the West never did us any wrong".  In Glorantha, there is a different dynamic going on, and it is the forces of Disorder who are the major adversaries of Chaos.  This is because Glorantha is about escalation, and the disorder deities are presently dominant in the world, having already subverted and conquered the "lawful" forces during the Lesser Darkness.  Chaos arrives in the Greater Darkness, and it is Disorder that is its foe.  The way Greg put it, you become like the enemy you fight... Fight the Kingdom of War, become the Kingdom of War.  Gloranthan Chaos is not like Moorcock's ideas of Chaos at all.

 

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On 4/30/2022 at 11:33 AM, Ormi Phengaria said:

Chaos is oblivion-- it is not merely raw, unfiltered creation tohu wa-bohu, but truly is non-existence. The great transcendent Nothing is like Everything, and is connected to it, but that connection is not itself chaos. This is the first division; these are the cosmic twins, and though like any other pair of opposites they can be reunified, this does not abrogate the fact that chaos is oblivion.

That is one form of Chaos, and a state akin to what some Draconic mystics actually seek to achieve, believe it or not.  The difference being that Draconic mystics come back from it if they want to.  Chaos is also what comes from the Unholy Trio's tainting of the Primal Plasma (the original source of life), which is now known as the Chaosium. 

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