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Discorporating others


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I'm copying this to a new thread in case others want to comment, without clogging up the Q&A thread.

I asked:

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Sorry if this is answered elsewhere.

In the RQ:G Q&A at https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/catalogue/publishers/chaosium/runequest-roleplaying-in-glorantha/cha4028-runequest-roleplaying-in-glorantha-qa-by-chapter/cha4028-runequest-roleplaying-in-glorantha-chapter-15-shamans/#ib-toc-anchor-3 it refers to assistant shamans discorporating by "casting [Discorporation] on themselves or having someone else (like their shaman) cast it on them."

In RQ:G and RBoM, both have the spell as Self only i.e. cannot be cast on others. This is in line with RQ:G page 367, where Vasana is taught by Argrath how to Discorporate, rather than simply Argrath using his magic upon Vasana.

So: is the magic Self only, or can it be used to Discorporate someone else, as per the Q&A?

@Scotty replied:

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Strictly speaking it is self only. However there are often situations in a game where one person discorporating will lead to a the GM having to leave the rest of the group out as they run that section. Using MGF (page 6), you can always bend the rules to keep your game fun. I have often had shaman have the shamanic ability of Discorporate others. or even a rune spell of Discorporate others. The Horned Man works in mysterious ways. Here is an example I wrote using Discorporate Other:

As a rune spell: https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/9621-gaining-shamanic-abilities/#comment-141711

As a shamanic ability (Discorporate other, Spirit Snatch, Spirit Traveller, or whatever name you choose to call it), I always make the target pay the magic point costs (5mps + 1mp if Extended Discorporation).

My interest was originally sparked by trying to understand animist Heroquesting when writing The Children of Hykim for the Jonstown Compendium.

The thread linked above by Scotty was very helpful in understanding what a simple animist Heroquest could look like, as was this thread:

In The Children of Hykim, I included the following advice on how to "get around" the rules-as-written constraint that Discorporation (whether the shamanic ability or the Rune spell) can only affect its user, not others:

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Under the RuneQuest rules, only a shaman or someone who knows the Discorporation Rune spell can normally enter the spirit world. Discorporation cannot be cast upon another person.

In the real-world, animist people rely (or relied) on their shamans for the spiritual “heavy lifting”, but any member of society may sometimes experience altered states of consciousness. Drugs, drumming, dancing and ecstatic practices allow animists to share otherworld experiences and visions.

It will be rare for a non-shaman to enter the spirit world, but it may be necessary for a particularly significant quest. To allow non-shaman characters to enter the spirit world on a shared quest, options could include:

  • Enter via a sacred spirit path or place.
  • The non-shamans may be accepted as assistant shamans, and then learn Discorporation.
  • Allow shamans to cast Discorporation on others i.e., amend the spell to Touch, not Self.
  • Allow Discorporation to affect others but with additional costs or conditions e.g., all affected must expend magic points, or require a casting chance >100% (therefore it is essential to enhance the chance with meditation, holy places and augmenting).

Those who lack shamanic skills such as Spirit Dance and Spirit Travel are at a higher risk while in the spirit world. Shared quests are therefore often a sign of desperation.

Some further options were given in the book's specific chapter on "Hsunchen Heroquests".

I think the right solution depends on whether in any game it's desirable for group Discorporation to be a regular occurrence. Are the ordinary folk in the animist culture isolated from the spirit world, except perhaps at Sacred Time, or can they participate more regularly in spirit travel?

Anyway, all shared here in case others have their own views, or want to find this in the future other than via the rules Q&A.

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We "know" that smoking Hazia can cause discorporation. Is it easy and automatic? I don't think so, there may be a meditative side to it, mantras and chants and breathing exercises and dance moves that help. So if you want to go on a group discorporation adventure, the shaman guiding the others through achieving an out-of-body experience could be the way to go.

Then you just need a ge mechanic - the shaman could use his Spirit Dance skill to augment the base-chance-plus-cat-mod of the other adventurers.

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Posted (edited)
33 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

We "know" that smoking Hazia can cause discorporation. Is it easy and automatic? I don't think so, there may be a meditative side to it, mantras and chants and breathing exercises and dance moves that help. So if you want to go on a group discorporation adventure, the shaman guiding the others through achieving an out-of-body experience could be the way to go.

In the current base rules, "an effect not unlike Discorporation", which begs the question what's the difference. Given its availability (and addictiveness), I think it's reasonable to assume it opens the door and lets you step just through the threshold, but doesn't get you very far on its own, otherwise the Spirit World would be an interesting place wherever Hazia addiction is common :-).

I see the Glorantha Bestiary is a bit bolder: "the same effect as a Discorporation spell but lasting for 1D6 hours". I still hope it doesn't just leave the otherworld peopled with stoners wandering around aimlessly :-).

Edited by Brian Duguid
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Deserts tend to have plenty of poisonous plants that will make you feel "Discorporate".  That is what the threshold of death is like.

Can anyone lay hands on the info on the Black Mushroom Drink from the Black Elves of Munchrooms in Trollpak?  Praxians love that stuff, to the point where Waha has rules that specifically mention it. 

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8 hours ago, Darius West said:

Can anyone lay hands on the info on the Black Mushroom Drink from the Black Elves of Munchrooms in Trollpak? 

I'm guessing that was the "Spirit Moss" from RQ2 Trollpak, which caused Discorporation if properly brewed. And if refined further, it "creates effects only pertinent in the forthcoming HeroQuest game".

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In real world shamanism, there are some important details in travelling to the Spirit World. The first is that anyone can do it and there are many methods of achieving it. Drumming, rattling, singing, and dancing are the most common methods, often used in combination. There are also entheogens. which are normally used in combination with the previous methods. However the problem with entheogens is that they can also be used without regard to their entheogenic properties and throw unprepared users into the spirit world.

Which brings me to the next detail. A shaman is someone who can control their entry and exit in and out of the Spirit World. Entheogens have the problem, to the unaware user, that they can only provide an uncontrolled entry and exit (and often no exit).

In many traditional cultures, those who cannot control their contact with the spirit world are considered mad, whereas a shaman does control it.

So in RQ terms, the shaman's discorporation ability, and any discorporation rune magic provide a controlled entry and exit from the spirit world (needing an hour long ritual to work). Hazia, Black Mushroom Drink and most other plants that can help achieve discorporation, fall into the uncontrolled category.

There is also the matter of an Axis Mundi, an important adjunct to travelling to the spirit world - a safe starting point. At large ceremonies, a shaman need only cast Axix Mundi and make sure all the participants are inside its diameter. Everyone inside is effectively in the Spirit World, everyone knows not to move as to do so moves you out of the protective area into the spirit world.

So If the shaman want's everyone to travel with him into the spirit world, everyone takes the supplied Entheogen (what ever it is), does the hour ritual, pays 5 magic points, and makes a meditation roll (including ritual preparation bonus). The shaman then casts Axis Mundi and everyone moves off through the now open gateway to the spirit world.

I would see this a form of guided meditation, with the shaman (and assistants) directing the group to act in ritual fashion. As long as they act as the shaman, there is little difficulty. This is the kind of activity I would imagine in a worship ceremony at a spirit shrine, where you might go the the vortex where the spirit lives. 

Some of you may find the 1968 paper, The Sound of Rushing Water by Michael J. Harner a useful read. It has some great Spirit World imagery and descriptions:

https://www.ayahuasca-info.com/data/articles/The Sound of Rushing Water.pdf

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4 hours ago, David Scott said:

So If the shaman want's everyone to travel with him into the spirit world, everyone takes the supplied Entheogen (what ever it is), does the hour ritual, pays 5 magic points, and makes a meditation roll (including ritual preparation bonus). The shaman then casts Axis Mundi and everyone moves off through the now open gateway to the spirit world.

I would see this a form of guided meditation, with the shaman (and assistants) directing the group to act in ritual fashion. As long as they act as the shaman, there is little difficulty.

This is largely what I did in one of my games to bring a group into the Spirit World to destroy a portal to the Dismal Swamp that the Lunars created in Orlmarth lands.  Shaman Joseph Greenbeak had the PC's gather assorted items that would allow them to interact more effectively in the Spirit World, as well as the herbs that would allow the Discorporation.  

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16 hours ago, David Scott said:

In real world shamanism, there are some important details in travelling to the Spirit World. The first is that anyone can do it

Wonderful post. One clarification I would like to make.

"Anyone can do it" as in "it can happen to anyone," definitely. But there are a lot of traditions, particularly ones relying somewhat less on abundant or relatively safe entheogens, where there isn't a guarantee of "yes, this will take you on a spirit journey" even under the guidance of an expert. The spirit world is then usually only approached by lay folk through mediums or as a more theistic-leaning practice. In RQ terms they might lack this ability to lead others in Discorporation. From other posts of yours I've read, I suppose this would be the difference between non-shamans belonging to a spirit society, and belonging to many individual spirit cults-- the former is what provides Discorporation.

Edited by Ormi Phengaria
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19 hours ago, David Scott said:

There is also the matter of an Axis Mundi, an important adjunct to travelling to the spirit world - a safe starting point. At large ceremonies, a shaman need only cast Axix Mundi and make sure all the participants are inside its diameter. Everyone inside is effectively in the Spirit World, everyone knows not to move as to do so moves you out of the protective area into the spirit world.

That's a super useful post, thanks David!  On the topic of Axis Mundi, per RAW it doesn't allow this -- it brings ancestor spirits down to the Mundane World, but doesn't help with going the other way, to the Spirit World. But I vaguely remember @Crel and myself chatting about it for a bit when figuring out how his assistant shaman character would be able to take the other PCs with him in to the Spirit World the future. I think he sort of wanted Axis Mundi to work like that too, and we figured we might have to bend the rules or find another way. It's interesting to see we might not have been too far off actually. Sadly IIRC we moved away from the idea because Axis Mundi is only given by Daka Fal and Waha in the rulebook. His character was gearing up to be an Eurmali shaman, which meant also bending the rules about what Rune spells Eurmal gets, and that didn't feel right. Well, it might feel right for Eurmal (because who the fuck knows what he can do, eh?), but it didn't feel right in general.

IIRC the upcoming Cults book is giving Discorporation to the Horned Man to fix the issue with assistant shamans. A subsequent fix would be to not only amend the Axis Mundi spell effects, but also give Axis Mundi to Horned Man. Or some other "Funky Discorporate Party" spell that's a subset of Axis Mundi.

Edited by Ludovic aka Lordabdul
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2 hours ago, Ludovic aka Lordabdul said:

... Axis Mundi is only given by Daka Fal and Waha in the rulebook. His character was gearing up to be an Eurmali shaman, which meant also bending the rules about what Rune spells Eurmal gets, and that didn't feel right. Well, it might feel right for Eurmal (because who the fuck knows what he can do, eh?), 

Swallow. Lots and lots of points of Swallow. Hey, it might work! Only one way to find out!

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22 hours ago, David Scott said:

In real world shamanism, there are some important details in travelling to the Spirit World. The first is that anyone can do it and there are many methods of achieving it. Drumming, rattling, singing, and dancing are the most common methods, often used in combination. There are also entheogens. which are normally used in combination with the previous methods. However the problem with entheogens is that they can also be used without regard to their entheogenic properties and throw unprepared users into the spirit world.

 

This is apparently not completely true for Central Asian "Altaic" shamanism, where being able to perceive and travel in the spirit plane is a gift inherited by some happy fews.

But of course Glorantha is not Central Asia.

Edited by Zit

Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

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6 hours ago, Ormi Phengaria said:

Anyone can do it" as in "it can happen to anyone," definitely.

I should have said everyone has the ability to travel to the spirit world. Whether it's controlled or not is another thing.

4 hours ago, Ludovic aka Lordabdul said:

On the topic of Axis Mundi, per RAW it doesn't allow this

Only in the sense it has a list of specific rules for ancestor spirits. The description does open with creates a holy sanctuary, which I interpret as the classic shamanic Axis Mundi: the connecting place to the spirit world. While not RAW, it's effectively a shamanic version of sanctify.

4 hours ago, Ludovic aka Lordabdul said:

By the way, if assistant shamans get Discorporate from the Horned Man, do they maintain a 1-point Rune Point pool for him? Or is it blended into the pool for Daka Fal/Waha/Yelm/whatever?

The Horned Man was the first shaman, he's not a god and has no rune pool. Discorporation comes from the god of the cult.

1 hour ago, Zit said:

This is apparently not completely true for Central Asian "Altaic" shamanism, where being able to perceive and travel in the spirit plane is a gift inherited by some happy fews.

My statement was about the human condition overall, not those who would become shaman. I've taught shamanism in Russia, to some from Siberia who's own shamanic tradition were gone. They had no trouble learning the techniques.

My own personal experience of an Altai shaman, was that he was born with ability, but it was not inherited. He was a shaman of the 9th heaven (could not travel beyond the 9th level of the spirit world!). Likewise with Tungus shaman, there seemed no real consensus that it was either hereditary or a random choosing to become a shaman. Overall they are large areas and likely with variations.

Overall in Glorantha, there are likely no humans who can't enter the spirit world.

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by the way, if anyone is able to visit the spirit world, why "spirit lore" is restricted to "shaman / sorcerer / priest" (p353) ?  and "spirit dance" too

why not anyone able to be teached or able to "experiment" (willingly or not) the travel ? in fact assistant shaman is able to learn these skills even if they are not ... shaman / sorcerer / priest.

 

So excepted assistant shaman, why John Doe, hazia smoker, but enough lucky to not be destroyed by some dangerous spirits and who succeed to find is way back, would not be able to get some experience their (or maybe were taught by some spiritual citizen ) ?

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50 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

by the way, if anyone is able to visit the spirit world, why "spirit lore" is restricted to "shaman / sorcerer / priest" (p353) ?  and "spirit dance" too

Delete the line on page 353 (see 3. Shamanic Skills (page 353)).

It's a cult skill for Daka Fal, and assistant shaman can learn it for free from their shaman mentor. Otherwise as it's a 00 skill, you will need training or a successful experience increase before you can add your magic modifier to it. Likewise spirit dance.

50 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

why not anyone able to be teached or able to "experiment" (willingly or not) the travel ? in fact assistant shaman is able to learn these skills even if they are not ... shaman / sorcerer / priest.

The only people usually with the skill are shaman or assistant shaman or Daka Fal initiates, so an adventurer could receive training. However per page 417, Rare skills, such as Magic skills, are rarely taught to outsiders.

50 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

So excepted assistant shaman, why John Doe, hazia smoker, but enough lucky to not be destroyed by some dangerous spirits and who succeed to find is way back, would not be able to get some experience their (or maybe were taught by some spiritual citizen ) ?

Other than getting over the 00 skill bump, it's certainly possible to increase them as part of a storyline or story hook.

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4 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

by the way, if anyone is able to visit the spirit world, why "spirit lore" is restricted to "shaman / sorcerer / priest" (p353) ?  and "spirit dance" too

I was going to reply "It isn't, I don't see any such restriction", but David's reply tipped me off that that sentence has been removed in the second printing. I believe that Spirit Dance should have been set at 05% rather than 00%. I can't see how avoiding a spirit on the spirit plane is literally impossible with no chance whatsoever of it happening by dumb luck in the absence of training.

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49 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

I can't see how avoiding a spirit on the spirit plane is literally impossible with no chance whatsoever of it happening by dumb luck in the absence of training.

You still have 5% with a 00% skill. The 00 is about the category bonus. 

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7 minutes ago, David Scott said:

You still have 5% with a 00% skill. The 00 is about the category bonus.

I did not think this was the case.  I've always played that if you have 00 skill (e.g. an unknown language), you do not know it and can't roll against it.

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9 minutes ago, David Scott said:

You still have 5% with a 00% skill. The 00 is about the category bonus. 

This seems to be new in RQ G. I am fairly sure in old iterations of RQ a 00% percent meant no checking until the skill was above 0 percent without mods... I hate to ask but could we get a citation for this?

... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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1 hour ago, PhilHibbs said:

David's reply tipped me off that that sentence has been removed in the second printing.

mmm not the second, it seems , I've got the cha4028_-_runequest_-_roleplaying_in_glorantha_2nd_printing.pdf and my question was based on it

however, I like @Scotty's fetch's answer

 

3 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

I did not think this was the case.  I've always played that if you have 00 skill (e.g. an unknown language), you do not know it and can't roll against it.

so do I. the only conclusion is David is not only a shaman, but an illuminate one !

 

the main point, for me, is that these 2 skills, even if they are in the shamanic traditions scope, are "true" knowledge, they can ber learnt by anyone. Of course, it is difficult, of course very few will teach you if you are not from their own spirituality, but it is technically possible

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