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Are Gloranthan Lions Cats ?


Agentorange

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Seriously,

A while back Jeff posted on the Runequest facebook page a geneology of Gloranthan animals ( probably here somewhere ) and very interesting it was too. One of the things that struck was the various children of Fralor ( carnivore ) are shown as Basmol ( lions ), Telmor ( wolves ), Rathor (bears) and Yinkin (cats )

Now in this world Lions and cats are part of the same family ( phyla ? clade ? whatever the correct term is...) they are recognisably felines and so on.

But in Glorantha are they considered to be  entirely different things that just by co incidence resemble each other ? Are there other  felines in Glorantha ( i seem to remember tiger people in RQ2 ) and what is their geneology. In our world lions and other cats are clearly related. In Glorantha they appear to be no more closely related to each other than Bears to Cats or Wolves to Cats. Unless they have a common mother ?

Also in the geneology it says Yinkin (cats ), does that means all cats or just alynxes ?

EDITED for typos and further clarification.

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Edited by Agentorange
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3 minutes ago, Agentorange said:

Seriously,
A while back Jeff posted on the Runequest facebook page a geneology of Gloranthan animals ( probably here somewhere ) and very interesting it was too. One of the things that struck was the various children of Fralor ( carnivore ) are shown as Basmol ( lions ), Telmor ( wolves ), rathor (bears) and Yinkin (cats )

You raise a very fair question.  The answer is probably that Basmol was a different beast, and is now dead.  Large cats like sabretooth tigers, tigers etc are likely descended from Yinkin not Basmol therefore.

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Yinkin is alynxes, not smilodons or lions, etc., and all the Orlanthi cats are alynxes, from mousers to coursers.

When I ran the Sheep of Luck heroquest in 13th Age Glorantha the fight with creatures of Fralar was a mix of Beast rune & Spirit rune foes with tokens lifted from the Ice Age movies. 😉

Edited by AndrewTBP
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Well, real world, no lions and tigers [oh my!] are NOT 'cats'. They are apex predators fully capable of taking down a healthy and resisting human. Even an alynx would have trouble with that criteria, and they are semi-wild whereas your average barn cat is not.

They are felines, certainly, related in the same way that otters and wolverines are related. But that's a WHOLE different breed of critter. Neither can be treated as the other because one has evolved a very different lifestyle and ecological niche. A tiger is not an alynx is not tortoise-shell house cat.

And don't give me that 'Born Free' I Have A Pet Large Cat video nonsense. Those particular pets are singular animals, raised from a very early age to be pets. Turning them loose into the wild alone would be death sentence for the beast. It would be just as strange for a Gloranthan hunter to have a sakkar [smilodon] 'pet' as it is for someone in your neighborhood to.

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58 minutes ago, AndrewTBP said:

Yinkin is alynxes, not smilodons or lions, etc., and all the Orlanthi cats are alynxes, from mousers to coursers.

When I ran the Sheep of Luck heroquest in 13th Age Glorantha the fight with creatures of Fralar was a mix of Beast rune & Spirit rune foes with tokens lifted from the Ice Age movies. 😉

I disagree... a lot.

I strongly feel that alynxes and house cats are both present and VERY different critters. Humans on Earth tamed several breeds of small, rodent-hunting cats as pest-controllers and it's entirely reasonable for Gloranthans to have done the same.

This question showed up tangentially in the 'Awakened Pet Heritage Boon Table' discussion. The table [RQG Core Book, pg 83] allows for a SIZ 1 or 2 animal to be awakened to full sentience as a companion and friend of the PC. The animal has normal physical statistics, but an INT, POW, and CHA of 3d6. Cats, lizards, snakes, etc. were all mentioned as examples. Now, alynxes come in a SIZ 3-4 where house cats are generally SIZ 1-2. The discussion digressed into 'can I have an alynx for my awakened pet instead of a house cat'. I pointed out that several very tough SIZ 2 cats exist... the Pallas cat /manul or ocelot for two examples... and so your awakened cat is probably NOT an alynx, unless it's the runt of the litter. Then the question is: 'Why  spend the POW to Awaken the runt of the litter? Wouldn't common sense lead one to spend that effort on a larger, more capable animal instead?'

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18 minutes ago, svensson said:

Well, real world, no lions and tigers [oh my!] are NOT 'cats'. They are apex predators fully capable of taking down a healthy and resisting human. Even an alynx would have trouble with that criteria, and they are semi-wild whereas your average barn cat is not.

They are felines, certainly, related in the same way that otters and wolverines are related. But that's a WHOLE different breed of critter. Neither can be treated as the other because one has evolved a very different lifestyle and ecological niche. A tiger is not an alynx is not tortoise-shell house cat.

And don't give me that 'Born Free' I Have A Pet Large Cat video nonsense. Those particular pets are singular animals, raised from a very early age to be pets. Turning them loose into the wild alone would be death sentence for the beast. It would be just as strange for a Gloranthan hunter to have a sakkar [smilodon] 'pet' as it is for someone in your neighborhood to.

Well, they are commonly called Big Cats 😄. My point is in this world they're clearly related. But in Glorantha according to the chart ( which by the way i do love as a piece of art )they would appear to be no more closely related than wolves are to cats or bears. They're all just children of Fralor. yet they clearly look similiar and share similiar traits in a way that the others don't.

As I said we're not shown who the mother divinity was so there could be a common divine heritage there.....

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5 minutes ago, Agentorange said:

Well, they are commonly called Big Cats 😄. My point is in this world they're clearly related. But in Glorantha according to the chart ( which by the way i do love as a piece of art )they would appear to be no more closely related than wolves are to cats or bears. They're all just children of Fralor. yet they clearly look similiar and share similiar traits in a way that the others don't.

As I said we're not shown who the mother divinity was so there could be a common divine heritage there.....

Sure.

In another discussion, we dived into the question 'Is there a Grandmother Bat?'

I personally came down on 'Yes, there is and she's MIGHTILY pissed off at the Crimson Bat's corruption of her people.'

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3 hours ago, svensson said:

It would be just as strange for a Gloranthan hunter to have a sakkar [smilodon] 'pet' as it is for someone in your neighborhood to.

Glorantha is a fantasy world, though. There is nothing like my neighbourhood in Glorantha.

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There are plenty of cat species in Glorantha beyond alynxes, lions, tigers, and sabretooths. We also know of cougars/puma, bobcats, jaguars, jungle cats, leopards, snow leopards, and I'm sure there are plenty more.

If somebody zoomed in on the Fralar family tree, I expect the God Learners would have included more detail - I don't think anyone should see the small snapshot published as evidence the lions and alynx are not in some way both cats.

Equally, if somebody talked to the locals in any area where these cats are common, they'd probably tell you stories indicating they are not related at all.

--

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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5 hours ago, Agentorange said:

Seriously,

A while back Jeff posted on the Runequest facebook page a geneology of Gloranthan animals ( probably here somewhere ) and very interesting it was too. One of the things that struck was the various children of Fralor ( carnivore ) are shown as Basmol ( lions ), Telmor ( wolves ), Rathor (bears) and Yinkin (cats )

Now in this world Lions and cats are part of the same family ( phyla ? clade ? whatever the correct term is...) they are recognisably felines and so on.

But in Glorantha are they considered to be  entirely different things that just by co incidence resemble each other ? Are there other  felines in Glorantha ( i seem to remember tiger people in RQ2 ) and what is their geneology.

There are various other felines in Glorantha. There are Sakkars or sabretooth tigers which you may have encountered if you played through the GM Screen booklet, there are bobcats who are definitely not shadowcats, even though the words lynx and alynx look almost the same. THere are cloud leopards and tigers beyond the Wastes, there are pumas (also called panthers, due to American misappication of old world beast names for new world ones, like "buffalo" for bison, or buzzard for vultures), and leopards are about to be returned to Tarsh or Saird within the next generation.

 

5 hours ago, Agentorange said:

In our world lions and other cats are clearly related. In Glorantha they appear to be no more closely related to each other than Bears to Cats or Wolves to Cats. Unless they have a common mother ?

Hykimi genealogy sometimes follows real world taxonomy closely, sometimes less closely. There are quite a few ancestral animals that are hard to place in the genealogy. We know of a Mother Mammal,

All (hsunchen-related) bears are descended from Rator, but there are sons of Rathor who are the ancestors for brown, black and blue bears, and others outside of northern Fronela. The antlered beasts have a common antlered ancestor, with the entities after which the various Hsunchen folk are named being called siblings.

We have Fralar, the father of carnivores, who has canine, ursine, mustelid, and feline offspring without many such umbrella ancestors. Rathor became one such. The canines obviously are closer related to one another than to any other of the carnivores, the wolverines and the badgers and otters and probably weasels etc. do cry out to have an umbrella ancestor of their own, the cats are closer to each other than to the canines or bears, but there is no intermediate father entity to provide that grouping. And is the Hyena one of the Bad dogs? Are foxes related to Telmor?

There are species from three real world feline lineages - the New World sabertooth cats, the large cats (genus panthera has lions, tigers, leopards, panthers, and jaguars, but also includes lynxes) and small cats (housecats and wild cats, but also pumas and cheetahs), and there are the unparalleled shadowcats who may be somewhere between the large and the small ones.

How far does Fralar's paternity extend? Is he the father of the andrewsarchus (an artiodactyl, related to the whales) or the terror pig? Or whales, wheher balene or toothed? Did he father carnivorous reptules or birds, too? (the latter probably not, so no horses who can claim to be cousins of Yinkin.)

Was there only one Fralar, or were there several generations or incarnations of Fralar siring the different types of carnivores, so we can have real world taxonomy somewhat mirrored in Gloranthan taxoomy?

 

Things get worse when you add the elemental parentage of so many beasts to the picture. Earth has the mothers of the herd beasts, but also of reptiles and snakes, and some ground-dwelling birds, and even water fowl.

But there is also Tholaina, mother of all beasts dwelling in water all or part of the time, whether diving birds like gannets or pelicans, mammals like sea otters, whales, pinnipeds, or manatees (and other sirens), reptiles like crocodiles, plesiosaurs, sea snakes, sea serpents, sea turtles, and all manner of non-chordate entities. Oh, and regular fish.

 

And that is without the Three Different Worlds complication that plagues Anaxial's Roster. (Don't ask if this is news to you.)

 

There are many different ancestries of what you would perceive as more or less one species or at least family. Many horses have solar ancestry, but the amount of beaks and claws the ancestress lost varies. Galin's horse doesn't seem to have any feathers or beaks

 

The resulting shape does determine interoperability despite the ancestty. Galana ponies, Western Daron and Dariti horses, Pelorian Seredae or the Hyals from Genert's Garden can all interbreed, producing fertile offspring, unlike when they interbreed with the morphologically similar donkeys or zebras.

It is unclear whether the great cats (tigers, lions, leopards) can interbreed in Glorantha producing infertile or even fertile crossbreeds. Given Yinkin's amorous adventures, I wouldn't be surprised if he managed to father offspring on a lioness or a female sakkar as a dare. (If Neep Trollkiller found Dark Troll females willing to mate with him, why not the divine shadowcat in Godtime?)

We know that Yinkin fathered the cloud cats on Heler (conventionally in female shape), much like Orlanth fathered the Cloud Hawks flying even higher. Possibly taking turns.

Could Yinkin have sired non-shadow cats, like felis sylvestris, or housecats? Who would have been the mothers?

Who were the partners Yinkin fathered his full alynx children on? Demigod cousins descended from Fralar, local nymphs, other beast and/or elemental deities of less defined shape?

Who other than Lhankor Mhy genealogists or hostile magicians would care?

 

5 hours ago, Agentorange said:

Also in the geneology it says Yinkin (cats ), does that means all cats or just alynxes ?

Alynxes are at best cousins of house cats, some of which have been described even in Dragon Pass context. The wild cat (felis sylvestris) might well be endemic, but is not a child of Yinkin. The leopoard, beloved by the future hero Enjeem, isn't either.

 

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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1 hour ago, Brian Duguid said:

I don't think anyone should see the small snapshot published as evidence the lions and alynx are not in some way both cats.

Well, if Fralar is not himself a cat and Basmol’s mother is not Kero Fin — a mountain! — it is not looking good, is it? If Basmol were Orlanth’s half-brother, we’d have heard about it, right? (Even IRL, however … well, just see this cladogram:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felidae#Phylogeny. So there is some reason for Gloranthan lynxes and housecats to be split from the lions.)

I gave up on Gloranthan biology when fungi got lumped in with plants.

Probably best to say none of our IRL natural kind terms apply in Glorantha and lose no more sleep over it. A Gloranthan “wolf” != a wolf, it just looks and behaves a lot like one, so what else are you going to call it?

(I would say, “Look, these are just myths of origin; they are not literally true, even in Glorantha.” But that would probably get me lynched, so I won’t.)

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I think it's a mistake to think that the diagram showing the mythic beast relationships works in any way like a phylogenetic diagram or a family tree. It's just one story about the entities depicted: the lion god and the alynx god both descend from an entity Fralar, father of carnivores. This is a God Learner story, and only as true as any other God Learner story. There are other stories we have not yet heard: in one of them, the lion and the alynx may descend from an ur-cat deity, who may be a face of Fralar or descended from Fralar, or both. Many things will be true. The story in Heortling Mythology about Yinkin's origin is just one story; I think the bobcat people, the Rinkoni (note the similarity of their names) would tell a very different story, in which Yinkin's relationship to Rinkona is described, not his relationship to Fralar and Kero Fin.

There's a Fralar in Heortling Mythology who eats one of the six Sheep of Luck. I don't read that as referring to Fralar as an individual entity. I read it as indiating that a mythical sheep fell victim to a mythical carnivore (other sheep falling victim to Mallia i.e. any form of disease, and to Urox i.e. to kinstrife).

The relationship of Yinkin and Basmol to Fralar echoes the relationship of felis lynx and panthera leo to carnivora. I don't think it tells us whether or not they are related to each other as cats. The diagram only tells a small part of the many stories that might exist here.

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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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6 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

Glorantha is a fantasy world, though. There is nothing like my neighbourhood in Glorantha.

Phil, you're missing the analogy. Knowing how smart you are, it's likely on purpose. Yes, Glorantha is a fantasy world, but ALL fantasy worlds are based to some degree or other on the common human experience here on Earth. Glorantha is no more devoid of the human storyteller traditions than Middle Earth is. There is a commonality of themes, conflicts, and resolutions of story in most traditions, from Yakut to Bantu, Han Chinese to Irish Gaelic.

My end point is this: A hunter with a sakkar as a hunt companion would be as unusual to a Gloranthan as a person with a puma as a pet in your community on Earth. It's possible, but is so unusual as to be commented on and gossiped about.

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2 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

Dog? Don’t encourage them! More like a very bad cat: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feliformia

King of Sartar mentions one of the Bad Dogs by the name "slinks like a cat".

There are no dog Hsunchen, but there apparently are Hsunchen dogs, descended from pups Telmor had to give up. No idea whether Brother Dog in Balazar or Prax has anything to do with that origin myth, though, or where the Jajalarings got their canine affinity from.

In the patreon-like project that led to Greg's novel (stump) Ten Women Well Loved, Harmast has a dog-loving companion for his travel to Nochet where his mutating Berennethelli tattoo freaked out the Grandmothers, who recognized the royal tattoo of the Kodigvari. His doggy friend helped him hide, IIRC.

 

Other than that, the Genert hyena may have been created by Genert as agent of his self-dismemberment. IIRC there are hyenas on the Pamaltelan veldt, no doubt with a very different origin myth.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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I think we can assume that purring cats (Felinae) are Yinkin's descendants in this scheme, so housecats, lynxes, cheetahs, servals, caracals, ocelots, fishing cats, as well as alynxes. 

Sakkar might be the name of the ancestor of sakkars/smilodons, for that matter. 

The real question is whether Basmol is ancestor of the roaring cats (Pantherinae) or just lions. "Hsa" is the name of tiger hsunchen, so perhaps that's the name of the tiger ancestor, but perhaps we can lightly fiddle with the scheme and make Basmol a nephew of Yinkin, with an intervening generation of some god called "Panther", "Atrox", or "Blythea" who parents the big cats, which would be leopards, lions, tigers, snow leopards, and clouded leopards at a minimum, and possibly also jaguars or equivalents of RW extinct species like the cave lion. 

 

If you liked the idea of the "Atroxi Church", this would also be a way to reintroduce the concept, tying it into totem societies in Seshnela, as Panthera atrox is an extinct species of cave lion, and this would be Ethilrist reinventing the lion society following his prolonged katabasis. 

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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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2 hours ago, Brian Duguid said:

I think it's a mistake to think that the diagram showing the mythic beast relationships works in any way like a phylogenetic diagram or a family tree … This is a God Learner story, and only as true as any other God Learner story.

I know I can seem boringly humourless and literal-minded, but I actually agree with you (I think). My idea is to leverage the absurdity of taking these things literally to discourage taking Gloranthan myths as the science and history of Glorantha.

The God Learners are pretty clearly meant to be taking an instrumental approach to myth: “What is truth, anyway? See what I can do, man. Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

However, it seems to me that one strand of the Gloranthan project — as executed IRL by Greg, Jeff, and the rest — is to see how far one can get with literalizing myth. I am not saying there isn’t another strand of taking myth and religion seriously — IMHO, in tension with the first — but I am not imagining the first, am I?

For example, we know that a Gloranthan would say that their world is a lozenge, but aren’t we supposed to be able to say it, too, in the same way that we might say “Sherlock Holmes lived at 221B Baker Street” and someone could reply “Yes, that’s right”? It isn’t true, but it is make-believe that it is (or whatever construction you prefer — “in the stories …” perhaps).

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5 hours ago, svensson said:

Phil, you're missing the analogy. Knowing how smart you are, it's likely on purpose.

Not sure what analogy you are specifically referring to, so maybe I'm not being as smart today as my reputation might imply. In my defence it is late at night and I'm tired.

5 hours ago, svensson said:

Yes, Glorantha is a fantasy world, but ALL fantasy worlds are based to some degree or other on the common human experience here on Earth. Glorantha is no more devoid of the human storyteller traditions than Middle Earth is. There is a commonality of themes, conflicts, and resolutions of story in most traditions, from Yakut to Bantu, Han Chinese to Irish Gaelic.

And all of these traditions have stories about people and wild animals having much closer and more cordial relationships than the modern way of thinking considers likely.

5 hours ago, svensson said:

My end point is this: A hunter with a sakkar as a hunt companion would be as unusual to a Gloranthan as a person with a puma as a pet in your community on Earth. It's possible, but is so unusual as to be commented on and gossiped about.

I think the rarity is an order of magnitude different. I don't know how many pet pumas there are, maybe a few hundred in the US? That would put it at about one in a million. There are only 200,000 humans in Sartar, so one sakkar companion would mean five times the incidence rate. It would not surprise me if there are a dozen hunters with big cat companions in Sartar, so that means sixty times as common, and I think I'm low-balling it by a wide margin.

Edited by PhilHibbs
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Shadowcats, lions, saber-toothed cats - all are considered to be children of Fralar. But so are Rathor, Telmor, etc. Some God Learners put an intermediate step between Basmol-Yinkin and Fralar, making them brothers, and Rathor and Telmor cousins. But magically this was unnecessary - Brother Lion, Brother Cat, Brother Wolf, they were all brothers according to the Hykimi. 

 

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Still the ancestral White Bear and the brown, black and blue bears of the Fronelan Rathori received a generational step, probably in order to excuse their ongoing ability to take their totemic shape, while losing only their ability to avoid hibernation.

Otherwise they would have been in a situation similar to the Praxian Basmoli, whose beast ancestor was slain and skinned, too, although by an outsider rather than by a descendant.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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3 hours ago, Jeff said:

Shadowcats, lions, saber-toothed cats - all are considered to be children of Fralar. But so are Rathor, Telmor, etc. Some God Learners put an intermediate step between Basmol-Yinkin and Fralar, making them brothers, and Rathor and Telmor cousins. But magically this was unnecessary - Brother Lion, Brother Cat, Brother Wolf, they were all brothers according to the Hykimi. 

 

Ah, interesting...so who was the mother ? we get Fralor as father, but what ( or who...) is the the other side of the equation ?

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