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Religion, Satire, and MGF


mfbrandi

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  Spun off from this in the Real-world Inspirations thread, as to take it further there would dilute that thread.

11 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

So where did it all go wrong for Gloranthan religion?

8 hours ago, svensson said:

It all 'went wrong' in the Godtime with the advent of competing gods of different Runic associations and pantheons.

Sorry, it is my fault for being sarcastic. (What, again?) I meant: where did it all go wrong in the minds of the Earthly creators of Gloranthan religion?

We had before us an example of a culture whose religion was not dogmatic, not priest-ridden, not obsessed with the life to come, not in charge of morality, and didn’t see gods as figures to emulate (so we could have them behaving very badly indeed) — but did we make the PCs’ religion like that? Nosirree, Bob! We had a bunch of jihadis/crusaders who’d cheerfully murder their own family members if they were square pegs — “Sorry, buddy, wrong rune. Say goodnight.”

Still, that needn’t be fatal to MGF: no one plays a Zorak Zorani (or in that other game, a Cthulhu cultist) under the impression that their character or their character’s religion is pleasant, admirable, or sane. We all like a bit of satire of religion, and in Psycho, Norman Bates was clearly the best part.

But there seems to be a tension in the presentation of Glorantha:

  • on the one hand, the Nysalorean illuminates are right: the warring sides in Glorantha don’t really have a casus belli — “These people and their gods are all crazy. Why can’t we all just get along? Stop choking me!” — still, it looks like fun, I’m gonna hit something;
  • on the other hand, there is an intolerable hole-which-is-not-a-hole in the world — Earth or Glorantha? In this person’s mind, probably both — and we must fill it with blood; Orlanth is a stand-up chap, and anyone who doesn’t think so can duke it out with Robert Bly.

I get the feeling — maybe wrongly — that some people want Orlanthism/the Lightbringer religion to be acceptable as an IRL religion of the religion-must-tell-you-how-to-lead-your-life stripe. But some presentations of Orlanth make one think that one of these must be true:

  1. it was written by a crazy person;
  2. it is satire and we are supposed to be in on the joke;
  3. it is a joke at our expense.

If you don’t believe me, take a peek at this — it must be stressed — no-longer-canon description of the big O:

Spoiler

Orlanth is the vital motive force of the universe. He is active and works in complete harmony with his wife Ernalda, who is passive. All active people worship Orlanth. Like Orlanth, men are active. Thus, all Orlanth worshippers are men and all men worship Orlanth …  He is the source, protector, and maker of all that [the Heortlings] do. They follow his examples … and uphold his virtues … he is also the force of responsibility … people must take responsibility for their actions if the world is to be a good one … He made the laws that govern people, societies, and the cosmos so that everything would know its proper place. — Thunder Rebels, p. 209

Charity would lead us to go for option [2]: it is a joke, and we are in on it. But (a) there has been so much effort over the years to try to get us to play this kind of awful person (i.e. an Orlanthi) and — I think — (b) some effort lately to make PC religion more PC, and that throws us back to our dilemma, right? Are Orlanthi virtues and religion a put-on or wishful thinking?

But the Greeks offer us a way out: offer the right sacrifices, don’t knock the penises off the herms, but whatever you do, don’t imitate Zeus — he is a thoroughly bad lot. If the player characters’ religion doesn’t come with any morality, then it doesn’t have to come with a morality acceptable to moderns. The characters — and the players — can be moral (if that’s their bag) without having Orlanth tell them what that looks like or modelling it for them.

————————————————————————

PS: I don’t know whether anyone this side of the Atlantic read Edith Hamilton. I must confess, I had never heard of her, but if there is one thing that I know, it is that I know nothing.

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1 hour ago, mfbrandi said:

I get the feeling — maybe wrongly — that some people want Orlanthism/the Lightbringer religion to be acceptable as an IRL religion of the religion-must-tell-you-how-to-lead-your-life stripe.

Err, what?  I certainly hope you're not saying some people are taking Orlanthism as a a real religion. In this world. That would be, ..., hmm.

So if what you're saying is that some people want to Orlanthism (or any other religion of Glorantha) to be a fully believable, well-rounded fictional religion, then, well, um yeah.

Religions tell you how to live your life.  That's a big bit of what they do. They give moral and ethical codes. Some will be more specific about it, some less. But it's there. Now whether you like the moral or ethical code that a religion real, or fictional, puts forward is something completely different.  And most religions will tell you that their way is best.

Glorantha is about the relationship of people and mythology.  Religion is a big part of that. There's a reason that Cults of Prax is one of the most celebrated supplements ever.  It's a big part of why I got into RQ. "Wow, here's a world that's actually trying to be internally consistent, that has religions that work how religions actually work and a supplement that isn't just putting the God's name over some stats and a giant loot pinata."  So, to me, of course Gloranthan religions say "this is how you should live." Why wouldn't they? And of course their followers would think their religion is great, amazing, wonderful and tells you the best way to live. if not, said worshippers would be off to the temple down the road.

Now, that's a long way from saying any Gloranthan religion would be a great one if it was real.  Or that any particular presentation of a Gloranthan religion is a masterwork of RPG setting writing (or even a good one). But I will defend the approach that Glorantha takes, which is to say "what we are trying to do here is present religions that actually feel like credible religions in a world like Glorantha would be."

Is Orlanthism a great way to live?  The only thing that matters there is: does it make sense in Glorantha?

Now, maybe I've totally misinterpreted your post.  But that's the message I took away.

 

Edited by DrGoth
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Okay, so now I went and read your previous post. Maybe I should have done that first.  But to me the Greeks are a really bad example.  The Romans had dedicated priests. So did the Egyptians.  I'm pretty sure other Near East civilisations did too.  And they certainly had moral codes.  The Egyptian belief about the weighing of a soul against the feather of truth?  Holding Gloranthan religions up to the measure of probably the most morality free religion in Earth history is a bit of a straw man.

I've only looked at this really quickly, because it's getting late here, but:

" the conviction was deeply ingrained, particularly in the minds of the Babylonians, that the gods demanded adherence to moral standards. "

https://factsanddetails.com/world/cat56/sub363/entry-6068.html

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1 hour ago, DrGoth said:

Now, maybe I've totally misinterpreted your post.  But that's the message I took away.

That is OK. My fault for not being clear.

1 hour ago, DrGoth said:

Is Orlanthism a great way to live?  The only thing that matters there is: does it make sense in Glorantha?

But there’s a reason why it — and not say Thanatar — is the default PC religion, right? So “does it fit the setting?” is not the only consideration.

Sure, there are plenty of real-world religions that want to tell you what to do and what to think in every part of your life, but don’t the Greeks provide a good example of a religion with a mythology we still enjoy but seemingly carrying no moral freight, and certainly not with top god as moral exemplar? Myths aren’t all moral fables and/or self-help manuals — or maybe I have been cursed to be blind to secret decoder rings.

So I was wondering: why not a metric ton of myth but not even a milligram of religious morality (at least for the default PC religion)? From the point of view of avoiding player alienation (and avoiding having to back-pedal or take the chisels to the stelae), it seems like the path of least resistance, no? That doesn’t mean no PC ethics: the players can bring or manufacture their own. So then: probably not a matter of chance, probably motivated — but what is the motivation? It would be rude of me to just guess or to blindly assert with zero evidence — though, of course, the temptation is always there, and sometimes … — but someone out there probably knows.

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3 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

Sure, there are plenty of real-world religions that want to tell you what to do and what to think in every part of your life, but don’t the Greeks provide a good example of a religion with a mythology we still enjoy but seemingly carrying no moral freight, and certainly not with top god as moral exemplar? Myths aren’t all moral fables and/or self-help manuals — or maybe I have been cursed to be blind to secret decoder rings.

Are you saying that ancient greeks did not share some morale ? What I understood is more that they share some values and they consider gods as fallible, full  of excess, lusts, rage, etc.. Like "anyone" who have too much power and use it, and sometimes abuse it.

 

Now I m not sure that the gloranthan gods are seen as "perfect" by gloranthan. Even the gods they worship. That's somewhere what subcults are : a bunch of values you are confortable among a larger choice.

Will all thunderous initiates praise this adventurous guy who cheats his wife ? I m not sure. But... Orlanth did it too.

Will all adventurous initiates praise this thunderous guy (or even adventurous it is not so rigid after all) who talk about peace with the ennemy ? I m not sure. But... Orlanth did it too.

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3 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

I meant: where did it all go wrong in the minds of the Earthly creators of Gloranthan religion?

I don't see that it went wrong at all.

3 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

We had before us an example of a culture whose religion was not dogmatic, not priest-ridden, not obsessed with the life to come, not in charge of morality, and didn’t see gods as figures to emulate (so we could have them behaving very badly indeed) — but did we make the PCs’ religion like that? Nosirree, Bob! We had a bunch of jihadis/crusaders who’d cheerfully murder their own family members if they were square pegs — “Sorry, buddy, wrong rune. Say goodnight.”

I really don't see that at all, except where Chaos is concerned and that only really applies to Wind Lords, Storm khans and Death Lords.

3 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

Still, that needn’t be fatal to MGF: no one plays a Zorak Zorani (or in that other game, a Cthulhu cultist) under the impression that their character or their character’s religion is pleasant, admirable, or sane. We all like a bit of satire of religion, and in Psycho, Norman Bates was clearly the best part.

Zorak Zoran, Shargash and Babeester Gor are fanatical religions, they are also ultra-violent religions. They are by no means typical Gloranthan Cults.

3 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

But there seems to be a tension in the presentation of Glorantha:

  • on the one hand, the Nysalorean illuminates are right: the warring sides in Glorantha don’t really have a casus belli — “These people and their gods are all crazy. Why can’t we all just get along? Stop choking me!” — still, it looks like fun, I’m gonna hit something;
  • on the other hand, there is an intolerable hole-which-is-not-a-hole in the world — Earth or Glorantha? In this person’s mind, probably both — and we must fill it with blood; Orlanth is a stand-up chap, and anyone who doesn’t think so can duke it out with Robert Bly.

I really don't see where you are getting this from.

Do you have any examples of these apparent viewpoints?

3 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

I get the feeling — maybe wrongly — that some people want Orlanthism/the Lightbringer religion to be acceptable as an IRL religion of the religion-must-tell-you-how-to-lead-your-life stripe. But some presentations of Orlanth make one think that one of these must be true:

  1. it was written by a crazy person;
  2. it is satire and we are supposed to be in on the joke;
  3. it is a joke at our expense.

I get that some people think that Orlanth, and Ernalda, are the only cults for Adventurers and all others must bow down to them, but it isn't really the case.

Personally, I don't like how Orlanth was presented in RuneQuest Glorantha, as one cult where it should have been 4 cults (Adventurous, Thunderous, Rex and Lightbringer).

3 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

Charity would lead us to go for option [2]: it is a joke, and we are in on it. But (a) there has been so much effort over the years to try to get us to play this kind of awful person (i.e. an Orlanthi) and — I think — (b) some effort lately to make PC religion more PC, and that throws us back to our dilemma, right? Are Orlanthi virtues and religion a put-on or wishful thinking?

This seemed to be an attempt to make Orlanth the Allfather and Lawgiver, following the example of the Norse/Germanic Odin/Woden, It didn't really work for me.

Quote

Orlanth is the vital motive force of the universe. He is active and works in complete harmony with his wife Ernalda, who is passive. All active people worship Orlanth. Like Orlanth, men are active. Thus, all Orlanth worshippers are men and all men worship Orlanth … 

This is written from a Heortling Orlanthi point of view. Of cause they would say that Orlanth is the vital, motive force of the universe, after all Orlanth is Umath's son. He killed Yelm, he broke the world in so many ways, then he fixed it again.

The idea of Orlanth (man) being active and Ernalda (Woman) being passive was an attempt to analyse Orlanth Myths vs Ernalda Myths. The Orlanth myths tended to be active ones, with Orlanth going out and doing things, but the Ernalda Myths tended to be more passive, with people coming to Ernalda for advice or assistance. It is a flawed approach but holds some truth.

As for all Orlanthi worshippers being men and all men worshipping Orlanth, that is just hyperbole. Don't forget that Orlanthi "All" means 85%, or 1 in 7. It also means "In an Orlanthi Clan". So, "all Orlanth worshippers are men" means that "85% of Orlanth worshippers in an Orlanthi clan are men", and "all men worship Orlanth" means "85% of men in an Orlanthi Clan worship Orlanth".

Don't forget that the Hero Wars books introduced Vinga as a cult of women worshipping Orlanth.

Quote

He is the source, protector, and maker of all that [the Heortlings] do. They follow his examples … and uphold his virtues … he is also the force of responsibility … people must take responsibility for their actions if the world is to be a good one … He made the laws that govern people, societies, and the cosmos so that everything would know its proper place.

This is more true. Orlanth is sometimes worshipped as Lawgiver. He does provide virtues for people to follow. He did take responsibility for his actions, after killing Yelm and almost causing the end of the world, he too responsibility and performed the LightBringer Quest to save the world.

For Orlanthi, Orlanth did bring the laws that govern people and societies, but they forget that not everyone is an Orlanthi. Other cultures and people do not accept Orlanth's Laws. Although Prax is peripherally Storm-based, as Storm Bull and Waha belong to the Storm Cults, they don't follow Orlanth's Laws, instead they follow Waha's Laws. Dara Happa and Pent follow different versions of Yelm's Laws. Lunars follow the Red Goddess's Laws. Westerners follow Malkion's Laws. But, the Hero Wars supplements were definitely about Orlanthi, so made them the centre of the world.

3 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

Charity would lead us to go for option [2]: it is a joke, and we are in on it. But (a) there has been so much effort over the years to try to get us to play this kind of awful person (i.e. an Orlanthi) and — I think — (b) some effort lately to make PC religion more PC, and that throws us back to our dilemma, right? Are Orlanthi virtues and religion a put-on or wishful thinking?

I don't think it is a joke. Orlanthi virtues are things like Honour, Loyalty and Loving your family. There is nothing wrong with those.

3 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

But the Greeks offer us a way out: offer the right sacrifices, don’t knock the penises off the herms, but whatever you do, don’t imitate Zeus — he is a thoroughly bad lot. If the player characters’ religion doesn’t come with any morality, then it doesn’t have to come with a morality acceptable to moderns. The characters — and the players — can be moral (if that’s their bag) without having Orlanth tell them what that looks like or modelling it for them.

So, is that where you are coming from? You don't like Gloranthan Cults being used as exemplars showing cultists how to behave?

For me, that is the beauty of Gloranthan Cults. If you want to behave honourably, then join a cult that praises honour. If you want to be a bandit then join Gagarth or Kentyl. If you want to be a kind healer then join Chalana Arroy, Xiola Umbar or the Seven Mothers. They then show you how to act.

 

 

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

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The quote from Thunder Rebels is from the presumed perspective of a member of a society where Orlanth is a preeminent god. So, here are some more options:

4. it was written by someone as an example of an alien perspective to help people play the roles of people with that alien perspective,
5. it was written as an example of a deliberately flawed and inadequate perspective to push people into playing more rounded human beings who have conflicts and tensions with their religion.

I think that there's an entirely separate factor here, which is that Gloranthan religions as they are understood in the contemporary fandom's center are actually neither paleopagan nor Christian, they're (without much acknowledgement) primarily derived from contemporary occultism and para-occult beliefs like Jungian psychoanalysis and Julian Jaynes. Nobody in the actual ancient world, so far as we can tell, understood themselves as being psychologically in-tune with a god in order for that god to be their patron or for themselves to become a member of a mystery cult related to that god- indeed, the distance between the god and the person seems to have been very relevant for Apuleius in The Golden Ass. But this is how contemporary occultism understands theurgy, invocation as opposed to evocation, and (though chaos magick isn't invoked all that close to the surface) godforming- which does have a parallel in "heroforming".

Because of this factor, which has grown more and more important as the Runes have become more and more definitional of characters, and characters have become more and more defined in advance in the games that have been released, it is thus impossible to have a "bronze age" or "antiquity" feel to Glorantha, because nobody in Glorantha practices religion like anyone in the ancient world did. (Gloranthan shamanism is a bit closer to the real world, but it has become subsumed under the theurgic-industrial complex, while sorcery is straightforwardly the ceremonial magician or Thelemic left-hand path of thaumaturgy. Mysticism managed to break a window and excuse itself, though.)

Because of this, Gloranthan religion within the recent context is necessarily both moralistic and deeply immoral- there is a code of actions, but it is divorced from any kind of reasoning or explanation, but simply relies on subordinating itself to the god. Similarly, the confusion between whether it is fellow humans or inexorable, mechanistic divine will which punishes the transgressors against cult strictures is characteristic of occultist environments being perceived by outsiders.

Now, with that being said, the enlightened Gloranthan understands the world a bit differently. They're able to move between gods for different purposes and different times, they can tell a god, "no". They're more like a modern chaos magician... or like someone from antiquity, or like the Yukaghir hunters quoted in this article: https://www.e-flux.com/journal/36/61261/laughing-at-the-spirits-in-north-siberia-is-animism-being-taken-too-seriously/. It should also be noted that enlightenment, flimsily disguised behind the phrase "illumination", is understood as morally suspect and dangerous within the fandom center, one suspects because it allows people to disregard that beautifully constructed opposition between theurgy and thaumaturgy, their cunning evocations of the sage Carl Jung. So it goes. Someday, they might recognize that if you see the Buddha in the center of the road, you've gotta run your panel van with the Hawkwind album covers on both sides up to highway speeds and keep going.

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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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4 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

  Spun off from this in the Real-world Inspirations thread, as to take it further there would dilute that thread.

Sorry, it is my fault for being sarcastic. (What, again?) I meant: where did it all go wrong in the minds of the Earthly creators of Gloranthan religion?

We had before us an example of a culture whose religion was not dogmatic, not priest-ridden, not obsessed with the life to come, not in charge of morality, and didn’t see gods as figures to emulate (so we could have them behaving very badly indeed) — but did we make the PCs’ religion like that? Nosirree, Bob! We had a bunch of jihadis/crusaders who’d cheerfully murder their own family members if they were square pegs — “Sorry, buddy, wrong rune. Say goodnight.”

Still, that needn’t be fatal to MGF: no one plays a Zorak Zorani (or in that other game, a Cthulhu cultist) under the impression that their character or their character’s religion is pleasant, admirable, or sane. We all like a bit of satire of religion, and in Psycho, Norman Bates was clearly the best part.

But there seems to be a tension in the presentation of Glorantha:

  • on the one hand, the Nysalorean illuminates are right: the warring sides in Glorantha don’t really have a casus belli — “These people and their gods are all crazy. Why can’t we all just get along? Stop choking me!” — still, it looks like fun, I’m gonna hit something;
  • on the other hand, there is an intolerable hole-which-is-not-a-hole in the world — Earth or Glorantha? In this person’s mind, probably both — and we must fill it with blood; Orlanth is a stand-up chap, and anyone who doesn’t think so can duke it out with Robert Bly.

I get the feeling — maybe wrongly — that some people want Orlanthism/the Lightbringer religion to be acceptable as an IRL religion of the religion-must-tell-you-how-to-lead-your-life stripe. But some presentations of Orlanth make one think that one of these must be true:

  1. it was written by a crazy person;
  2. it is satire and we are supposed to be in on the joke;
  3. it is a joke at our expense.

If you don’t believe me, take a peek at this — it must be stressed — no-longer-canon description of the big O:

  Hide contents

Orlanth is the vital motive force of the universe. He is active and works in complete harmony with his wife Ernalda, who is passive. All active people worship Orlanth. Like Orlanth, men are active. Thus, all Orlanth worshippers are men and all men worship Orlanth …  He is the source, protector, and maker of all that [the Heortlings] do. They follow his examples … and uphold his virtues … he is also the force of responsibility … people must take responsibility for their actions if the world is to be a good one … He made the laws that govern people, societies, and the cosmos so that everything would know its proper place. — Thunder Rebels, p. 209

Charity would lead us to go for option [2]: it is a joke, and we are in on it. But (a) there has been so much effort over the years to try to get us to play this kind of awful person (i.e. an Orlanthi) and — I think — (b) some effort lately to make PC religion more PC, and that throws us back to our dilemma, right? Are Orlanthi virtues and religion a put-on or wishful thinking?

But the Greeks offer us a way out: offer the right sacrifices, don’t knock the penises off the herms, but whatever you do, don’t imitate Zeus — he is a thoroughly bad lot. If the player characters’ religion doesn’t come with any morality, then it doesn’t have to come with a morality acceptable to moderns. The characters — and the players — can be moral (if that’s their bag) without having Orlanth tell them what that looks like or modelling it for them.

————————————————————————

PS: I don’t know whether anyone this side of the Atlantic read Edith Hamilton. I must confess, I had never heard of her, but if there is one thing that I know, it is that I know nothing.

I think you are taking a poetic panegyric praising a god (Greg wrote a lot of those back in the days - GRoY, Entekosiad, FS, and the unpublished Lunar materials were filled with them), and then running with it even further. As an aside, the Greeks routinely did the same thing - just check out Cleanthes' "Hymn to Zeus." To add to it, you took something that you even acknowledge as non-canon to make your point.

So let me make two responses:

1. The Gloranthan deities fulfill psychological or cosmic needs, if they are to be worshiped. Even Zorak Zoran and Storm Bull has their place in the cosmos and in the needs of their worshipers. They often do awful deeds (in the literal meaning of the word) that demonstrate their divine power. Because they are powerful, but not all-powerful or all-knowing, the question of theodicy that so often consumes moderns just doesn't show up. Ever seen a tornado close up? That's divine power. Is it good or is it evil? It simply IS - a part of the cosmos. In Glorantha I can wield some of that divine power by initiating to the cult of Orlanth.  

2. Orlanth is a destructive and violent god (tornadoes, hurricanes, thunder, lightning, etc.) who also is an upholder of cosmic order. He and the Sun had a rivalry, which he ended by unleashing Death (another divine manifestation). Because of this, we have Time, Day and Night, and the world we mortals recognise. As farmers we love him, for his storms bring the rain that fertilizes the earth and lets us grow crops. Is he a "good" god? The Orlanthi say yes - he lets them wield his power, his associates and friends and broad and useful, and his cult is the cornerstone for their social organisation. Non-Orlanthi tend to view devoting oneself to such a destructive force to be foolish at the very least. Who's to say who is right? All we can say is that the Orlanth cult has certainly proven itself to be useful and has spread itself far and wide.

Thunder Rebels really missed the point here - and Greg and I made the decision not to update it for HQ because we both agreed it really didn't describe the Orlanthi religion in Dragon Pass. If it describes anything, it is the henotheism of the Chariot of Lightning movement in Ralios, where Orlanth is worshiped as the supreme god (instead of just "king of the gods"). But that is a topic for another thread.

 

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A little sick and a little distracted lately (too many pots boiling) but finding this productive for its glimpses behind the evolving architecture of our thing. One quick point of information:

4 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

PS: I don’t know whether anyone this side of the Atlantic read Edith Hamilton. I must confess, I had never heard of her, but if there is one thing that I know, it is that I know nothing.

Maybe you people would say "Jane Harrison" instead. Similar impact even if the underpinnings are very different. 

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2 hours ago, Jeff said:

As an aside, the Greeks routinely did the same thing - just check out Cleanthes' "Hymn to Zeus."

An interesting aside, but as a piece of Hellenistic Stoic philosophy, even harder to fathom? And never mind what idiot things I said, probably falling outside the scope of Burkert’s claims about Greek religion.

If people want to read it, there is a translation here. (There are others, of course.)

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52 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

So @Jeff, the short answer is:

You’re imagining it Brandi, there is no religious morality or divine moral example, there is just:

  • awe at divine power;
  • a chance to tap that power.

Is that about right?

Not quite right.  There are different divine moral examples.  Orlanth screwed up the world and then tried to set it right.  He is not a perfect moral example in all respects.  

Eff's discussion of Jungian psychology is most relevant IMHO.  From the first day that I was exposed to RQ2 I have understood that the gods are archetypes and to Initiate in a cult is to commit oneself to being a better exemplar of that archetype.  

That doesn't change the proposition that these cults are transactional religions.  

 

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I am in a game in which, for a little while, someone else played a Zorak Zoran cultist.  It was pretty clear that this was the character's response to past events, to prejudice and persecution.  Who will say that's not at least occasionally right and moral?  There are Real World situations in which the most appropriate response IS to go berserk.  We occasionally give Medals of Honor for that.  It's not all bad all the time.

What turns the ZZ into an a**hole is that he tries to apply that to all situations.

it was also pretty clear in the game that Zorak Zoran bloody-mindedness is not the answer to all problems.  As my own character, an Argan Argar initiate, said, "we can't kill our way out of this."  But then Argan Argar is the Darkness god who does talk and worry about Equal Exchange and give aid including to folks who are not Uz.

As another example of what i am trying to get at, your Chalana Arroy initiate is to be unfailingly pacifistic. ( Except to Chaos, and that's a big exception but the CA won't have the skills to physically fight Chaos either.)  Ordinarily the CA is a much more comfortable neighbor than the ZZ.  So what happens if the CA sees a small child about to be attacked by a large non-Chaotic predator?  I am not a pacifist, and would kill the wolf.  The CA would ideally keep hands off and concentrate on how moral it is to follow CA's example of non violence.  I think I would be following the more moral course.  By this example i am indicating that always being nice is not an infallible moral guide either.  There are times when it is just as objectionable as the ZZ's berserk rage.

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10 minutes ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

I am in a game in which, for a little while, someone else played a Zorak Zoran cultist.  It was pretty clear that this was the character's response to past events, to prejudice and persecution.  Who will say that's not at least occasionally right and moral?  There are Real World situations in which the most appropriate response IS to go berserk.  We occasionally give Medals of Honor for that.  It's not all bad all the time.

What turns the ZZ into an a**hole is that he tries to apply that to all situations.

it was also pretty clear in the game that Zorak Zoran bloody-mindedness is not the answer to all problems.  As my own character, an Argan Argar initiate, said, "we can't kill our way out of this."  But then Argan Argar is the Darkness god who does talk and worry about Equal Exchange and give aid including to folks who are not Uz.

As another example of what i am trying to get at, your Chalana Arroy initiate is to be unfailingly pacifistic. ( Except to Chaos, and that's a big exception but the CA won't have the skills to physically fight Chaos either.)  Ordinarily the CA is a much more comfortable neighbor than the ZZ.  So what happens if the CA sees a small child about to be attacked by a large non-Chaotic predator?  I am not a pacifist, and would kill the wolf.  The CA would ideally keep hands off and concentrate on how moral it is to follow CA's example of non violence.  I think I would be following the more moral course.  By this example i am indicating that always being nice is not an infallible moral guide either.  There are times when it is just as objectionable as the ZZ's berserk rage.

As a wild take on ZZ, I had one player point out the Monarch from the Venture Brothers can certainly channel some of that hate.
 

 

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1 hour ago, mfbrandi said:

So @Jeff, the short answer is:

You’re imagining it Brandi, there is no religious morality or divine moral example, there is just:

  • awe at divine power;
  • a chance to tap that power.

Is that about right?

... ?
I think you seem to be looking for a singular Gloranthan "this is the way it is" answer...?

I don't think there is such an answer.

Take a random rural hill-Orlanthi farmer, son & grandson of farmers; he'll have a very-different perspective than an Orlanth-Adventurous Wind Lord who's been adventuring throughout Genertela with other Lightbringers, and even occasionally with ...

 some Praxian nomads ...
 some Lanbrili ...
 some KL/etc Dark-Folk ...

Maybe even some <gasp!> ... Lunars!

etc.

And, in turn, each of those groups is not monolithic in outlook.  Many Lunars are quite cosmopolitan, but others can be just as reactionary & fanatical as the very-most-rigid & Geas-bound Humakti & Yelmalions.

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31 minutes ago, g33k said:

I think you seem to be looking for a singular Gloranthan "this is the way it is" answer...?

I was just reading a book review and as a result wondered why Gloranthan religions seemed to be such that Gloranthans would:

  • fret about life after death;
  • take the lead from their gods about who to hit with a big stick and how generally to carry on;
  • model themselves after their gods.

It seemed to me that these were not givens in IRL religion — though certainly common — so it seemed like a design decision. Possibly a good one, I don’t know, though I can see reasons why one wouldn’t want to do it (and possibly the force of Jeff’s answer is that it wasn’t done, anyway).

I was foolish enough to quote from an old source — because I had been looking at it and it was a particularly bold statement — but as of HQG (2015), the picture was much the same: Orlanth is still “the model for all men” (p. 154, emphasis mine). Never mind the “all” or the “men” or the content of what O is modelling, it was the idea of gods as models I was fretting over. Foolishly, as it may be.

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22 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

I was just reading a book review and as a result wondered why Gloranthan religions seemed to be such that Gloranthans would:

  • fret about life after death;
  • take the lead from their gods about who to hit with a big stick and how generally to carry on;
  • model themselves after their gods.

It seemed to me that these were not givens in IRL religion — though certainly common — so it seemed like a design decision. Possibly a good one, I don’t know, though I can see reasons why one wouldn’t want to do it (and possibly the force of Jeff’s answer is that it wasn’t done, anyway).

I was foolish enough to quote from an old source — because I had been looking at it and it was a particularly bold statement — but as of HQG (2015), the picture was much the same: Orlanth is still “the model for all men” (p. 154, emphasis mine). Never mind the “all” or the “men” or the content of what O is modelling, it was the idea of gods as models I was fretting over. Foolishly, as it may be.

You seem to be missing the obvious - in Glorantha, people really can wield part of the power of their god. To do that they need to have a tangible spiritual connection and follow the demands of their deity. But in return, they really can fly, hurl lightning, make the crops fruitful, turn into a wolf, whatever. When they do that, they ever so briefly manifest the god in the ordinary world. Really and objectively. And quite often.

 

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39 minutes ago, Jeff said:

You seem to be missing the obvious - in Glorantha, people really can wield part of the power of their god. To do that they need to have a tangible spiritual connection and follow the demands of their deity. But in return, they really can fly, hurl lightning, make the crops fruitful, turn into a wolf, whatever. When they do that, they ever so briefly manifest the god in the ordinary world. Really and objectively. And quite often.

 

And all this is why Rune Spells are LOUD.

Unless it's specifically designed to be stealthy or deceptive [Dark Walk, Illusionary [Whatever]], a Rune Spell caster is going to stand out like scream in a movie theater... For a moment they get bigger, their expressions are more primal, their voices full of more authority and so on.. they are physically manifesting their god's spiritual power on the Mundane plane.

 

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1 minute ago, Jeff said:

You seem to be missing the obvious - in Glorantha, people really can wield part of the power of their god. To do that they need to have a tangible spiritual connection and follow the demands of their deity. But in return, they really can fly, hurl lightning, make the crops fruitful, turn into a wolf, whatever. When they do that, they ever so briefly manifest the god in the ordinary world. Really and objectively. And quite often.

 

I think a lot of people overlook this; but also the ceremonies at Sacred Time...

Those ceremonies are sometimes just real-world reenactments (like a school "christmas pageant") but (like any real-world heroquest in Glorantha) sometimes actually interact with the Otherworld, and gives worshipers direct vision & experience of those events & deities...

It's hard to imagine anyone raised that way who  ISN'T  a deep & profound believer:  they have personally seen the Greater Darkness, the Chaos War, the desperate LBQ and IFWW battle.

Or if Lunars, the brutal cruelties and oppressions of the old Bull Shah's, the 7M's coming together & seeking lost/dead bits of ancient Moon deities, occult methods to summon and rejoin them.  They may even have quested with Sedenya to the Underworld, and beyond it to the very border of dissolution in the Void.

Etc...

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5 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

It seemed to me that these were not givens in IRL religion — though certainly common — so it seemed like a design decision. 

It's down to the fact that the Gloranthan gods are immanent. IRL gods are not. 

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19 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

We had before us an example of a culture whose religion was not dogmatic, not priest-ridden, not obsessed with the life to come, not in charge of morality, and didn’t see gods as figures to emulate (so we could have them behaving very badly indeed) — but did we make the PCs’ religion like that?

I'm confused. What culture are you referring to here?

Because I see Orlanthi culture as quite dogmatic, priest-ridden (although perhaps not as much as IRL, but then we don't have Rune Lords either... or say, in Esrolia), obsessed with the life to come, and most definitely in charge of morality (albeit, not ours), and do see the gods as figures to emulate... (in some ways, to some extents...).

19 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

We had a bunch of jihadis/crusaders who’d cheerfully murder their own family members if they were square pegs — “Sorry, buddy, wrong rune. Say goodnight.”

While some players and GMs might approach RQ like that, that's not actually how the gods and people in Glorantha have been portrayed. Very specifically to your quote, kinslaying is evil (aka, chaotic).

 

19 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

I get the feeling — maybe wrongly — that some people want Orlanthism/the Lightbringer religion to be acceptable as an IRL religion of the religion-must-tell-you-how-to-lead-your-life stripe.

Now, this I sort of agree with... certainly with your other statement about PC's religions becoming more PC to fit 'modern' morals and standards. Runequest has become more woke... and that disappoints me.

 

As mentioned before, the gods are real. Your character has seen this reality, multiple times. Their parents have, their grandparents have, all your friends, kin, kith, and all those around you have. The only time you meet up with someone who hasn't is usually when you're about to stab them in the face (well, abdomen... left leg??). And so, since you know they're real, you won't ever question any morality that they do or don't show. So, for the most part, yes - power is what gives you a sense of morality.

We players get to read through various source books and decide on what we want to play, what cults to be a part of, what background we want. Characters don't. And just as the vast majority of humanity on Earth never seriously consider the beliefs they have been brought up with (over the last few tens of thousands of years), neither will the PCs and NPCs. Regardless of how (in)sane that religion may be. Social pressure, backed up with the literal force of the gods.

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13 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

I was just reading a book review and as a result wondered why Gloranthan religions seemed to be such that Gloranthans would:

  • fret about life after death;

Gloranthans know that there is an afterlife, they go there in Holy Day Ceremonies. They can summon their Ancestors or speak to them on special days. So, they have no fears of the Afterlife not existing.

However, bad cultists might end up in a place of punishment instead, so they can worry about that. They could end up bound as a ghost, or consumed by Chaos, both of which are bad, so they could fret about that instead.

13 hours ago, mfbrandi said:
  • take the lead from their gods about who to hit with a big stick and how generally to carry on;
  • model themselves after their gods.

I find that is a great strength of Gloranthan cults, that your deity provides a model for you to live by. 

 

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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