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Are the Telmori the only cursed hsunchen/shapeshifters in Glorantha ?


Agentorange

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How funny, this just came up elsewhere! RQ2 was explicit:

Shape changers are a lonely breed, tainted with Chaos, and disdainful of civilization . . . On nights of the full moon, which happens once a week in Glorantha, the lycanthropes must change to its beast form and roam the countryside. Their Chaotic nature gives them their abilities of shape change and invulnerability to impure metals. They do not receive any of the Chaotic features.

This would then lead the question of what historical circumstance applies across the modern lycanthropic tribes while excluding "normal" hsunchen. The elusiveness of true weretigers and wereboars in the modern materials makes a single origin tricky unless you reinsert them into the Dorastor narrative. Chaos-tainted bear people may of course be a phenomenon of the lunar way. Or all of this may be an artifact of the game setting's implied future . . . right now the telmorites are the only cursed shapeshifters but that will change fast and soon.

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16 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

How funny, this just came up elsewhere! RQ2 was explicit:

Shape changers are a lonely breed, tainted with Chaos, and disdainful of civilization . . . On nights of the full moon, which happens once a week in Glorantha, the lycanthropes must change to its beast form and roam the countryside. Their Chaotic nature gives them their abilities of shape change and invulnerability to impure metals. They do not receive any of the Chaotic features.

This would then lead the question of what historical circumstance applies across the modern lycanthropic tribes while excluding "normal" hsunchen. The elusiveness of true weretigers and wereboars in the modern materials makes a single origin tricky unless you reinsert them into the Dorastor narrative. Chaos-tainted bear people may of course be a phenomenon of the lunar way. Or all of this may be an artifact of the game setting's implied future . . . right now the telmorites are the only cursed shapeshifters but that will change fast and soon.

It was reading my old RQ2 book that got me wondering. In that book we get Bearwalkers, Tiger brothers and Tusk brothers. All of which it is suggested have to change skins. They're all cursed it seems. Though the Bearwalkers seem to be a little less so. Now we have the hsunchen model and only the Telmori seem to be cursed. Unless the others do exist as rare splinter tribes. maybe Brian Duguids book will tell us more.

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23 minutes ago, Agentorange said:

Unless the others do exist as rare splinter tribes

This is the approach I would take as I always liked these other were-folk.  Tusk brothers could exist as a rarity among the Tusk Riders, but I'm inclined to place them in Ramalia - a notably cursed land.  For Tiger Sons, they might well fit in Kralorela or the jungles of Fethlon - dangerous loners cursed as outcasts.  As for Bearwalkers, they seem to have morphed more into the Odayla cult.  If they do exist, they might be cursed outcasts from Rathorela, or have developed within the Kingdom of War, or perhaps are an isolated Rathori clan who fell to Chaos during the Syndics Ban.

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1 minute ago, Agentorange said:

They're all cursed it seems.

IMG multiple nations across history have been afflicted with RQ2-style lycanthropy, with the wolf empire only being the best known and most "successful" in the sense that all but isolated "normal" clans in Dorastor have now died out. Most are something like a surgical strike on the totemic leadership of a regional beast system . . . the top of the food chain as it were:

Bear feel like survivors of the White Bear Empire, an achievement of Loskalmite anathema experts and then stranded on the wrong side of the ban. (I don't think many lycanthropes survive in modern Fronela. This is probably part of what's at stake in Harrek's totemic assimilation of White Bear and the resulting religious upheavals in the north.) At least there's a place for them within the lunar way. 

Boar come from the wreckage of Slontos and their story distinct from "normal" swine totem people has yet to be told. There aren't a lot of other beast people in that part of the world so this might have been the most absolute of the curses, vilifying the entire local hsunchen ecology. Might well be an ongoing project of Ramalian sorcery to create shock troops from an otherwise wretched population. Some may have escaped. Thankfully the curse is "recessive" and so they don't breed true across the pig belt.

Hsa are the least attested. My best intuition from the deep sources is that they emerged in either a failed Kralorelan korgatsu revolt or the losing side of a dynastic struggle (dragon versus tiger) but until someone wants to go to the east and come back and tell us, it's a question mark. 

It's interesting to postulate other top-tier shamanic leadership totems being cursed in this way but I'm not sure history really attests for lycanthropic Basmolites (cults of prax would have told us) or Pralorites (although the were-stag or "horned man" is an evocative figure in his own right). "Normal" Vrimakites seem to have died out, leaving various monster forms behind. Werehorses recur under ecological pressure but again, I don't think this is a curse.

There may be chaotic bull walkers in the West Reaches and something like lycanthropy lurking in Charg. And then more explicitly "reptilian" totems (serpent brotherhood and so on) seem to have an ability to digest and shed curses and other taints. This is probably what happens to abandoned Pamaltelan totems, getting wrapped in the horned serpent complex instead of rejected as atavistic "chaos."


 

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So, in our discussion of Hunter cult spells, we also talked about the various Hunter cult 'animal shape' spells of attack form, protection form, and the collective spell of Transform. To an outside observer, it's very, VERY easy to confuse a Rune spell use with a Telmori transformation. This leads to a whole bunch of misunderstanding and prejudice. A Sartarite seeing a Pralori transform into an elk might legitimately think "WTF?! WERE-DEER???"

I think we have to define what 'lycanthropy' is for Hsunchen beast-cult societies.

The way I personally define it is this: "Are they afflicted with the benefits and deficits of classic lycanthropy?" To whit:

- Uncontrolled shape changing

- Immunity /resistance to 'normal' weaponry

- Inordinate vulnerability to certain Rune metals.

- And the loss of Human intelligence and memory for the duration of the transformation.

Now, something that needs to be said here is that @Scotty specifically stated in the Hunter cult spells discussion that the various Hsunchen or Hunter cult Transform spells are NOT 'lycanthropy', the recipients of those spells do NOT have protection from normal weaponry or susceptibility to Rune metals, and that they retain their human intelligence [including the ability to cast spells].

We all ran into a similar situation earlier this year talking about the RQ definition of 'undead' being significantly different than the 'normal' [aka d20] definition. Ghosts and spirits, for example, are NOT 'undead' as Humakti define the term.

 

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8 hours ago, svensson said:

So, in our discussion of Hunter cult spells, we also talked about the various Hunter cult 'animal shape' spells of attack form, protection form, and the collective spell of Transform. To an outside observer, it's very, VERY easy to confuse a Rune spell use with a Telmori transformation. This leads to a whole bunch of misunderstanding and prejudice. A Sartarite seeing a Pralori transform into an elk might legitimately think "WTF?! WERE-DEER???"

I think we have to define what 'lycanthropy' is for Hsunchen beast-cult societies.

The way I personally define it is this: "Are they afflicted with the benefits and deficits of classic lycanthropy?" To whit:

- Uncontrolled shape changing

- Immunity /resistance to 'normal' weaponry

- Inordinate vulnerability to certain Rune metals.

- And the loss of Human intelligence and memory for the duration of the transformation.

Now, something that needs to be said here is that @Scotty specifically stated in the Hunter cult spells discussion that the various Hsunchen or Hunter cult Transform spells are NOT 'lycanthropy', the recipients of those spells do NOT have protection from normal weaponry or susceptibility to Rune metals, and that they retain their human intelligence [including the ability to cast spells].

We all ran into a similar situation earlier this year talking about the RQ definition of 'undead' being significantly different than the 'normal' [aka d20] definition. Ghosts and spirits, for example, are NOT 'undead' as Humakti define the term.

 

Agreed, hsunchen feel totally different to the lycanthropes presented in RQ2, the Telmori of course edging a bit closer to that view than the others. . Which is why I asked my question at the top of the thread. I kind of like the notion of irascible Wereboars.😊

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11 minutes ago, Agentorange said:

Agreed, hsunchen feel totally different to the lycanthropes presented in RQ2, the Telmori of course edging a bit closer to that view than the others. . Which is why I asked my question at the top of the thread. I kind of like the notion of irascible Wereboars.😊

Let this one bake your noodle....

Tusk rider were-boar.

THAT would seriously throw a wrench in the PC's program...

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14 hours ago, Agentorange said:

Now we have the hsunchen model and only the Telmori seem to be cursed. Unless the others do exist as rare splinter tribes. maybe Brian Duguids book will tell us more.

It does not, sorry :-). The Children of Hykim ignores the RQ2 material and describes only the Telmori as having a cursed sub-set. I definitely wouldn't rule out others, I just had no particular reason to add them back in.

The big question for me is: if there are other cursed lycanthropes, how were they cursed, by who, when, and why? The Nysalor / Talor story is huge. What's the equivalent for the Tusk Brothers, Tiger Sons etc? (And why are they all male?)

14 hours ago, jajagappa said:

If they do exist, they might be cursed outcasts from Rathorela, or have developed within the Kingdom of War, or perhaps are an isolated Rathori clan who fell to Chaos during the Syndics Ban.

These seem like strong possibilities, especially the Kingdom of War.

13 hours ago, scott-martin said:

IMG multiple nations across history have been afflicted with RQ2-style lycanthropy, with the wolf empire only being the best known and most "successful" in the sense that all but isolated "normal" clans in Dorastor have now died out.

Canonically, there's still a large group of Telmori "pure ones", who were never blessed by Nysalor, in Telmoria, Ralios.

13 hours ago, svensson said:

So, in our discussion of Hunter cult spells, we also talked about the various Hunter cult 'animal shape' spells of attack form, protection form, and the collective spell of Transform. To an outside observer, it's very, VERY easy to confuse a Rune spell use with a Telmori transformation. This leads to a whole bunch of misunderstanding and prejudice. A Sartarite seeing a Pralori transform into an elk might legitimately think "WTF?! WERE-DEER???"

Transformation is not common in Hunter cults, in my view, it's specific to the likes of the Odaylans, who are a barely-disguised atavistic revival or survival of an original Rathori heritage. Their friendly relationship to the Storm tribe has left a non-animist distortion of their ancestral inheritance.

Odayla gets Transform Self from the Lady of the Wild, who exemplifies this distortion by "othering" nature as "wilderness" rather than as home. Hsunchen cults get the spell from Mother Mammal or similar, an acceptance that they are still beasts, part of nature rather than apart from nature.

I personally doubt that Sartarites would see Hsunchen transformations as automatically alarming. There is an existing clan (in Elkenvale) who consider themselves to be direct kin to the elk. And most well-educated Sartarites will be aware that Heort himself was one of the Deer Folk, descended from Doe Woman and others who could take deer form. Some will also have met or been told about Basmoli mercenaries.

13 hours ago, svensson said:

Now, something that needs to be said here is that @Scotty specifically stated in the Hunter cult spells discussion that the various Hsunchen or Hunter cult Transform spells are NOT 'lycanthropy', the recipients of those spells do NOT have protection from normal weaponry or susceptibility to Rune metals, and that they retain their human intelligence [including the ability to cast spells].

Well, the only example we know still exist in the RQ:G version of Glorantha are the Telmori werewolves. They have invulnerability to normal weaponry because that was the blessing specifically granted by Nysalor. It was never inherent to their ability to transform, which we can safely assume was just like that of other Hsunchen, and which will survive amongst the Pure Ones, who have no mythic / historical reason to have that invulnerability.

13 hours ago, svensson said:

- Uncontrolled shape changing

- Immunity /resistance to 'normal' weaponry

- Inordinate vulnerability to certain Rune metals.

- And the loss of Human intelligence and memory for the duration of the transformation.

In the case of the Telmori, all of these can be specifically traced to Nysalor's blessing / chaotic gift (the second point), or to Talor's curse (the first and last, and plausibly the third). There was therefore clearly a point in time when the Telmori had only some of these features, not the whole set.

That raises interesting possibilities if the blessing / curse happened separately to boar-folk, bear-folk, tiger-folk or any others, or if it were to happen again.

Edited by Brian Duguid
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The Silver best-selling The Children of Hykim documents 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. "Lovingly detailed and scholarly, and fun to read" - John H.

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@Brian Duguid Insofar as the Hsunchen Pralori example, I was looking for a Hsunchen people who would a] have access to the Hunter Transform spells, b] were different from Odayla, who does have the Transform spells and are familiar to a Sartarite, and c] were far enough away from Sartar to be 'foreign'.

Remember that Pralori don't know the Stranger's Greeting and are not culturally Orlanthi. Sartarites have enough experience with smiling faces with deceit in their hearts from Lunar missionaries and are quite defensive in this era [ca. 1625 ST]. Telmori are more familiar to them, but are also not Orlanthi and are cursed by Chaos. Heort was a good Orlanthi Hero and was many generations descended from Doe Woman and the Elk Clan of Sartar is understood to be a Hunter-worshiping clan and their transformations are identifiable as 'culturally Orlanthi'. From where the average farming carl is standing, a stranger Pralori may very well be lycanthropes until proven otherwise.

This is why I think RQG players and referees need a list of labels and criteria to answer simple questions like 'What is the definition of lycanthropy in Glorantha?' and 'Is lycanthropy tied to the Chaos Rune?'.

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1 hour ago, Brian Duguid said:

The big question for me is: if there are other cursed lycanthropes, how were they cursed, by who, when, and why? The Nysalor / Talor story is huge. What's the equivalent for the Tusk Brothers, Tiger Sons etc? (And why are they all male?)

 

It takes an empire to burn down an elf-wood, but anyone can start a fire. The Telmori are a tribe, and were cursed by an empire. So logically an individual were-whatever could  be the result of a curse by an individual magician.

Or maybe the cause is dominant possession by the wrong ancestral spirit.

Or maybe no-one actually caused it, it was just the consequence of a personal moral or mythical failure by the Hsunchen practitioner themselves. 

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Brian Duguid said:

The big question for me is: if there are other cursed lycanthropes, how were they cursed, by who, when, and why? The Nysalor / Talor story is huge. What's the equivalent for the Tusk Brothers, Tiger Sons etc? (And why are they all male?)

that s the big question. I always understood that telmori were cursed not because they were hunshen but because they followed Nysalor (of course this cursed apply the transformation because as hunshen they were able to tranform but the hunshen nature did not trigger the curse)

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19 hours ago, jajagappa said:

I'm inclined to place them in Ramalia - a notably cursed land

That would lend itself to the idea of Slontan God Learners, or their debased post-cataclysm successors, attempting to replicate Nysalor's gift to the Telmori in the First Age to create their own controlled population of were-boar shock troops.

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6 hours ago, Brian Duguid said:

It does not, sorry :-). The Children of Hykim ignores the RQ2 material and describes only the Telmori as having a cursed sub-set. I definitely wouldn't rule out others, I just had no particular reason to add them back in.

The big question for me is: if there are other cursed lycanthropes, how were they cursed, by who, when, and why? The Nysalor / Talor story is huge. What's the equivalent for the Tusk Brothers, Tiger Sons etc? (And why are they all male?)

 

They are all male aren't they ? I never really thought about that before. I wonder why. Are only males affected. Or do the females live back at the den/set/whatever !

Mmm.....

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2 hours ago, Agentorange said:

They are all male aren't they ? I never really thought about that before. I wonder why. Are only males affected. Or do the females live back at the den/set/whatever !

I kind-of assume it was because ... 1970s.

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The Silver best-selling The Children of Hykim documents 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. "Lovingly detailed and scholarly, and fun to read" - John H.

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3 hours ago, Agentorange said:

They are all male aren't they ? I never really thought about that before. I wonder why. Are only males affected. Or do the females live back at the den/set/whatever !

There must be females or male impregnation scenarios worthy of Amazon's print-on-demand back categories because

The genes for lycanthropy are recessive, so that only matings between lycanthropes will breed true. Most children of two lycanthropes are either animal or human without shapechanging ability.

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18 hours ago, scott-martin said:

There must be females or male impregnation scenarios worthy of Amazon's print-on-demand back categories because

The genes for lycanthropy are recessive, so that only matings between lycanthropes will breed true. Most children of two lycanthropes are either animal or human without shapechanging ability.

Of course, there is a suspicious lack of women among named Telmori, and one of the few women associated with the Telmori goes by "Cat-Witch". Perhaps there really is a regular self-published fantasy romance hoedown going on in Telmori country?

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

"I just read an article in The Economist by a guy who was riding around with the Sartar rebels, I mean Taliban," -Greg Stafford, January 7th, 2010

Eight Arms and the Mask

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1 hour ago, Eff said:

Of course, there is a suspicious lack of women among named Telmori, and one of the few women associated with the Telmori goes by "Cat-Witch". Perhaps there really is a regular self-published fantasy romance hoedown going on in Telmori country?

YGWV! This rare "genetic" explanatory framework is interesting because it hints at the Curse as totemic amplification, something that only really happens sustainably when normal breeding barriers are routinely transgressed in a dimorphic tribal system. Which is a lot of words for thinking about "natural" telmorite people giving birth to mixed litters of pups and peeps who need to learn special magic to cross over. Break a taboo or have it broken around you and some of the babies will be natural hybrid forms expressing the lurking lycanthropic taint as well as superpowers.

The fan community has previously noted parallels between these lycanthropic forms and the special counters of the Nomad Gods cults . . . protectresses and ancestors . . . as well as embodied persistent hybrid forms like minotaurs, born in between and living their lives that way. RQ2 says that even when you get two of these rarefied entities together you're still going to generate mostly pups and peeps, effectively the raw moving parts of a new "natural" hsunchen community as long as someone will teach them the special magic of remembering how to cross over. 

These first-generation tribes, in turn, will rapidly outnumber the lycanthropes simply because even one "natural" parent will suppress the taint and you get normal pups and peeps. You need repeat transgression to generate an original lycanthrope (the rules are explicit, this is not contagious), much less the prospect of a second generation and even a mated pair will only dominate their territory if they make an effort to kill their natural offspring, which only suppresses gross fertility rates over time. But if all you're looking for is a renascence of Beast Rune people, this is a pretty good way to go.

And I'm reminded of the non-dimorphic beast forms like satyrs who canonically do not have females but always breed true. I wonder what happens with a nymph in the mix.
 

Edited by scott-martin
contagious vectors
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There is a lack of names, but we do have Salinarg's wife as one example of a female Telmori, even if we don't count Harsaltar's little sisters. Kostajor's son Helkos used to have three Telmori wives after losing his cousin/wife Eonislora, daughter of Terasarin to Lunar assassins.

 

Transgressing the number of legs in procreation would be something I would reserve for the Other Side, not mundane procreation. Circumstances like those that produced Morag or Arkat. And Morag might be a good case study for what happens if magic meets "adventurous" out-of-species matings, even so closely related ones like Minotaurs.

I don't think that Gbaji's gift to the Telmori was to breed true as shapeshifters. It was to establish the shape-shifting ability as a common trait.

From what we know about Kostajor's Telmori descendants (and Salinarg's wife's descendants), the Telmori curse is dominant in reproduction. 

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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MGF requires that there are others, but probably not in whole tribe numbers. Some will be cursed, some will be blessed, and the myths behind decide each particular case.

I would expect that many Hsunchen societies (unfortunately I have not yet got Brian's excellent looking supplement on Hsunchen) have people who trascend the limitations of transform spells through heroquests to adopt their "other shape", whether a weretiger or a tigerwere, functionally at will. Those were for me the model Nysalor used for the Telmori blessing, with the added functionality of bronze immunity while transformed.

In the same way I am sure there are cautionary tales of those that prefer to skip some steps, do things the wrong way and end up transformed and cursed with intelligence loss, or insane rage, or unending hunger, or some other trait that means they have lost something in exchange.

Do you want an American werewolf story and have the curse transmitted by bites? Just do it. Do you want nice ecowarriors hidden in the jungle, slowly learning the secrets of shapechanging? It works too. 

Greg Stafford and by extension Glorantha has always been expressed in my mind in Whitman's Song of Myself, 51. That applies perfectly in this case.

Quote

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

 

 

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That's my favourite quote with respect to Glorantha, to be honest.

If it's not contradicting itself, it's not the Glorantha that got me interested in the first place.

2 hours ago, JRE said:

I would expect that many Hsunchen societies (unfortunately I have not yet got Brian's excellent looking supplement on Hsunchen) have people who trascend the limitations of transform spells through heroquests to adopt their "other shape", whether a weretiger or a tigerwere, functionally at will.

There is at least one such person depicted on the cover of the hopefully-imminent Print-on-Demand version, possibly more. And this desire to reintegrate their Beast / "Man" aspects is also discussed in that book, in the section on Hsunchen Heroquests on pages 124-126 (in the current edition - it will be on pages 132-135 for anyone reading this after the revised edition comes out).

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The Silver best-selling The Children of Hykim documents 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. "Lovingly detailed and scholarly, and fun to read" - John H.

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