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heroes, Heroes, and SuperHeroes... how to define?


Shiningbrow

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So, obviously coming from the other thread...

What are the necessary and sufficient conditions (traits/qualities) for categorising a Gloranthan entity as one of the above? Are there any dis-barring traits to any of the above,

This isn't about who, but about how/why.

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1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

So, obviously coming from the other thread...

What are the necessary and sufficient conditions (traits/qualities) for categorising a Gloranthan entity as one of the above? Are there any dis-barring traits to any of the above,

This isn't about who, but about how/why.

I don't know if there's any kind of articulate answer here from Chaosium. What I have divined is that there is a concept called the Hero Soul which involves splitting off portions of your soul (in rules terms, POW) and "planting" them on the Otherside/Gods World, which gives you "Hero Points" in rules terms. So perhaps a Hero is someone who has done this, but then, Kallyr is firmly not a Hero according to Chaosium, but she clearly has some kind of permanent Otherside tie because of that glowing star on her brow. But perhaps a Hero is someone who has staked out a space on the Otherside that is specifically theirs, rather than directly subordinated to some other entity. But then you have the idea that Heroes are "of" some Otherside being like a god. 

Setting that aside, I still have no idea whether there's any necessary or sufficient conditions for being a Superhero in Glorantha beyond being predefined outside the scope of the fictional universe as one, given that there are exactly six "canon" ones- Arkat, Errinoru, Yanafal Tarnils, Harrek, Jar-eel, Androgeus. What do they all share? Nothing, because we know far too little about Errinoru to make firm statements about him. Perhaps, going by Yanafal and Harrek, a Superhero is a Hero who has developed a transcendent understanding of their god, enough to manipulate them directly. Applying this to Arkat seems strange, because which god would that be? The Invisible one? Orlanth? Humakt? Zorak Zoran? And of course Jar-eel might have a transcendent understanding of Sedenya, or she might be a puppet of the Red Goddess, an avatar who speaks with the knowledge of the godhead most of the time, but in any case she doesn't seem to have any of the oppositional qualities of YT and Harrek. 

And I couldn't even begin to say anything about Androgeus's relationships with any deities, because ze appear to be primordial enough that if eir Superhero status is based on a relationship with a deity, that deity is probably some kind of Celestial Court-like being which rarely interacts directly with the world. Perhaps she has a conflict with their own godhead? 

These answers are not really answers, but hopefully they move us closer to some! 

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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, the first and major distinction is whether Greg Stafford [MHRIP] thought of them. This is usually expressed as whether or not they're considered Heroes in the Dragon Pass and Nomad Gods wargames.

After that, we get into a whole lot of speculation.

Most of the names you know in RQ3 and RQG are not the Heroes of the wargames. They're the top 5% of normal mortals, 'hero candidates' I guess you'd call them.

We know that Heroes-With-A-Capital-H must Heroquest multiple times for major causes. If successful, they will achieve major powers. And these are not the relatively minor Heroquests for mere temporal power. These are Heroquests reenacting the primary myths of their deities on the HeroPlane itself and thereby changing the fabric of the Mundane Plane... Jar-Eel suppressing an entire slave revolt by converting one man to the Lunar Way, for example. HeroQuests of this magnitude change the quester in very significant ways. Yes, they gain powers but they also gain serious deficiencies. For example, Queen Kallyr Starbrow Quested into the Sky Realm, gaining power and the star-gen in her brow, but she also fell in love with one of Yelm's Star Captains and, mechanically speaking, had a fundamental change in her Runes... gaining much in Fire/Sky and losing much of her Air/Storm. This is not what she bargained for. She Quested for the power to named the unchallenged Prince of Sartar so that she could drive out the Lunars. She got something entirely different. And Kallyr Starbrow is not a Hero by Greg's way of defining things, so imagine what the likes of Cragspider went through.

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1 hour ago, Eff said:

What I have divined is that there is a concept called the Hero Soul which involves splitting off portions of your soul (in rules terms, POW) and "planting" them on the Otherside/Gods World, which gives you "Hero Points" in rules terms.

From one of Jeff's FB posts (12/30/21) on heroquesting: "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."

The ability then to split off a portion of the soul and link you to the God Time is clearly one step towards becoming a Hero.

Also see Jeff's FB post from 6/6/22 on Becoming a Hero (Becoming a Hero – The Well of Daliath (chaosium.com))

"Greg speculated that to become a Hero, one needed to:

1. Participate in at least two “great events” – heroquests outside of those known by cult or tradition. This would include cult heroquests that go outside of known paths.

2. Have at least four special items or abilties

3. Have at least one unique item or ability

And finally:

4. a final test against one’s own god where the Hero proves their independence.

I’m inclined to think that these more or less define our Gloranthan Heroes, although of course there going to be exceptions. But Jar-eel, Harrek, Argrath, Jaldon, Gunda, Beat-Pot, Ethilrist, etc., all fit into this system nicely.

Note the importance of the Hero being independent from one’s god. Even those heroes who are revered as avatars of their god – e.g.,Harmast, Alakoring, Argrath, Hon-eel, Jar-eel, etc., proved their independence to their deity!"

The ability to Return from Death, which is clearly expressed in WBRM, would I believe be one of the four special items or abilities.

Edited by jajagappa
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41 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

4. a final test against one’s own god where the Hero proves their independence.

This feels like the sufficiency condition @Shiningbrow was asking about- you might have a variety of magic items, one truly unique to you, you might even have wandered from the critical path a dozen or more times, but although those are probably necessary, they aren't sufficient. The kicker is proving your very own scutum fidei:

 220px-Battle_of_Agincourt_Trinity_Banner_%281833_reconstruction%29.jpg

Edited by Eff
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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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10 hours ago, jajagappa said:

1. Participate in at least two “great events” – heroquests outside of those known by cult or tradition. This would include cult heroquests that go outside of known paths.

2. Have at least four special items or abilties

3. Have at least one unique item or ability

And finally:

4. a final test against one’s own god where the Hero proves their independence.

I find the numbers there quite arbitrary.

Why two "great events'? Why four 'special items or abilities'? And everyone is unique... and every item is unique.

As to the first one, that could be interpreted as to mean anytime you fail a roll at an important junction while on a HQ - especially if it's a Fumble.

Also, going by definition, that would mean that many, many GodLearners would fall into the Hero category... how do we feel about that being true? They were infamous for raiding, pillaging, and changing Heroquests, and we'd expect that the best of them had done this many times, and would easily qualify for all 4 of those items listed.

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5 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

I find the numbers there quite arbitrary.

Why two "great events'? Why four 'special items or abilities'? And everyone is unique... and every item is unique.

One great event makes you a recognized heroquester, such as Hofstaring, Kallyr, Gringle, Minaryth Purple, possibly Leika. A Hero candidate.

The Red Sword of Tolat is a case of a non-unique artifact

 

5 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

As to the first one, that could be interpreted as to mean anytime you fail a roll at an important junction while on a HQ - especially if it's a Fumble.

The Columbus effect? You need to bring back something other than a major defeat to make it a great event.

One typical great event might be to stake out a domain in the Otherworld, to create a place of their own in Godtime, and then to have it maintained through a community of worshippers, without just apotheosizing.

 

5 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Also, going by definition, that would mean that many, many GodLearners would fall into the Hero category... how do we feel about that being true? They were infamous for raiding, pillaging, and changing Heroquests, and we'd expect that the best of them had done this many times, and would easily qualify for all 4 of those items listed.

There are descriptions of God Learner otherworld expeditions that used a massive brute force approach. Such expeditions may have been designed and overseen by sorcerers who would reap the benefits. That implies a willingness to sacrifice questers on the way to the goal, preferredly hired work given a superficial introduction. Too successful heroquesters might be sent on suicidal quests to avoid rogue powers, or may have been removed clandestinely when they became too powerful. Think Siegfried, useful for a while, then a threat to Gunther's sovereignty.

Other heroes simply followed the paths of Godtime raiders - there are enough candidates, most of the Storm and Sea pantheons, quite a few fire entities, plenty Darkness folk, and if you count avengers as well, Earth has its share of Godtime quests to retrieve items. And then there is Chaos...

Some sorcerers did become bona fide heroes - Halwal certainly would count.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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I would treat the list above actually as a God learner hero curriculum, what you have to do to become one of god's chosen heroes. Other heroes will do something different, and some may achieve all and still be missing something. But I can see a master course (warning, the practical course may eat your soul) in a jrusteli sorcerer academy that has such a list.

As I believe magic was stronger in previous ages, as the Godtime was actually closer then and Time had not devoured so many things, I am sure the Gbaji wars involved hundreds of heroes, rather than the dozens of the Hero Wars. And the Age of Empires had even more, as humans found they could challenge the divine and win for a time. We just do not know their names, and few in Glorantha still do. Arkat's empire erased the Nysalorians, the God Learners erased the Arkati, and assorted cataclysms and Dragons all the rest.

Being realistic, I do not expect Chaosium to complete the hero definition in my lifetime. It may take still some time to see the first steps of the path. So it is the players who will need to traverse it, and share their own findings with others. It will be a small number, but I also expect only a very small number of players are really interested in capital H Heroes, because that power also means a loss of agency in Glorantha, and in my experience the one thing most RPG players hate more than anything is losing their freedom.

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21 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Why two "great events'? Why four 'special items or abilities'? And everyone is unique... and every item is unique.

Why a POW of 18 to become a Rune Priest?  Why five skills at 90% to become a Rune Lord?  It's a game simulating a world - arbitrary decisions and cutoffs will be made.

And as Jeff noted in the text I quoted, "Greg speculated that to become a Hero, one needed to".  We do not yet have definitive, final information.  I pointed to this reference as it's about as close to what you were asking (i.e. "What are the necessary and sufficient conditions (traits/qualities)") as we currently have available.

There are examples of special abilities scattered around - and the White Bull campaign episodes that include the fight with Jar-eel, and then the benefits described in the aftermath, are one place to see how these might be gained and applied.

Until the GM book comes out with the basics of heroquesting, this is pretty much what we have...

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23 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Also, going by definition, that would mean that many, many GodLearners would fall into the Hero category... how do we feel about that being true? They were infamous for raiding, pillaging, and changing Heroquests, and we'd expect that the best of them had done this many times, and would easily qualify for all 4 of those items listed.

Very few of the Gloranthan Heroes fit in to the mould of what we 21st century people would call a hero, but one only has to look at the Greek heroes to realise that most heroes are mad, bad and dangerous to know, and the Gloranthan Heroes pretty much all fall into that categorisation, perhaps the only exceptions being Sartar and Elamle-Ata.

I don't know what defines a Hero in Glorantha, but I'm pretty sure there isn't some modern moral standard as a prerequisite, so I'm sure there were many GodLearner Heroes and that's not a problem at all from my point of view.

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9 hours ago, Martin Dick said:

one only has to look at the Greek heroes to realise that most heroes are mad, bad and dangerous to know, and the Gloranthan Heroes pretty much all fall into that categorisation, perhaps the only exceptions being Sartar and Elamle-Ata.

Andrea: Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero.
Galileo: No, Andrea: Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.
—Bertolt Brecht, Life of Galileo

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2 hours ago, Eff said:

As far as needing to participate in two "great events", that's easy. First time could be luck. Second time proves ability. 

Repeatability also signals you can teach the lightning. The great alchemist Fulcanelli even stretched the rule to suggest that even twice is lucky, you need to be able to do a thing ("RE") two and a half times to demonstrate real Mastery over the process. 

 

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17 hours ago, Eff said:

First time could be luck. Second time proves ability.

Why does this make me think of the Goldfinger quote: "Once is Happenstance. Twice is Coincidence.  The third time is enemy action."

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On 7/1/2022 at 6:18 PM, scott-martin said:

Repeatability also signals you can teach the lightning. The great alchemist Fulcanelli even stretched the rule to suggest that even twice is lucky, you need to be able to do a thing ("RE") two and a half times to demonstrate real Mastery over the process. 

 

The half would be the really tricky part. I suppose that that's one of the outer Arkat secrets, though, because if you switch from one track to another, at least one will be left unfinished.

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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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