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The Outer Atomic Explorers


Noita

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They are a Seshnelan order of magicians who were active against the Autarchy.  Their only mention is RQ3's Troll Gods.  They used the Astekel Horse to destroy all paths they could find to Stantham Well (where Arkat lived on the Heroplane).  They were succeeded by the God Learners.

It's not known whether they are still canonical (they are not mentioned in the Middle Sea Empire) and the article has tonal problems with it IMO.

 

 

 

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The RQ Con 2 Compendium (1994) Lore Auction p85 with Greg and Sandy:

"5: Who or what were the God Learner Outer Atomic Explorers?

SP: I believe that the Outer Atomic Explorers were individuals that attempted to penetrate through the wall of Glorantha into the chaos beyond. And the great majority of them made it, and never came back.

GS: I think that that's probably a good understanding.

SP: They had a number of different goals, like seeing Glorantha from the outside to see what shape it really was.

GS: Yes.

6: Would it be reasonable to you that the name "Outer Atomic Explorers" comes from the "atoms," the building blocks of Glorantha, being not little physical atoms but philosophical atoms? From the God Learners point of view, the basic underlying assumption of Glorantha? And they get outside by tweaking the assumptions. They change the philosophical atom that makes up the universe until they get to a slightly different universe. Or, out towards the Void.

SP: Here is my belief on the subject. Whether the atoms in Glorantha are philosophical, or physical, or whether they are the runes, they are by definition "the thing that cannot be destroyed, that cannot be rendered down any further" The Outer Atomic Explorers attempted to not be destroyed by chaos by rendering themselves, or their vessel, down to it's simplest possible form. By making it very difficult for them to be destroyed, they could get into chaos. The more complexity you have to you, the easier it is for chaos to get at you. Unless of course you reach the critical mass of having all contradictions within you, like in the story of Ethelrist and Keener Than. When they are eaten by Hungry Jack, they were able to turn into
each other.

7: I guess I'm confused about the Outer Atomic Explorers and what they were attempting to do. My understanding is that Prince Snodal traveled out of Glorantha and then came back-
SP: No, no, no. He traveled out of Loskalm,-
GS: - out of the Human World, out of the Center World,-
SP: - and a lot of people have done that.
GS: He traveled to the edge of the world, where the heroes and gods live. He went to the threshold, but not outside the world.

7: That's what I wanted to know.
SP: The Outer Atomic guys were attempting to actually leave the entire cosmos.
GS: I wonder what a Gloranthan space ship would look like?

SP: I think it would be cool!"

Then it goes on to the EWF

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Sandy's take on them is spot on. The Outer Atomic Explorers sought to explore "beyond" the Cosmos and into the void beyond. The "atoms" are the irreducible components of existence - but based on Gloranthan logic, not modern physics. Their atoms bore no resemblance to those of Dalton, et al.   

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  • 6 years later...
On 12/21/2015 at 11:27 PM, Jeff said:

Sandy's take on them is spot on. The Outer Atomic Explorers sought to explore "beyond" the Cosmos and into the void beyond. The "atoms" are the irreducible components of existence - but based on Gloranthan logic, not modern physics. Their atoms bore no resemblance to those of Dalton, et al.   

Thanks for the clarification.  I thought the irreducible components of Glorantha were Runes not Atoms?  Point taken about the irreducibility of Atoms, from the philosophy of Democritus et al.

I had the Outer Atomic Explorers pegged as being unlucky sods who had come from the Lozenge and scraped up against our own reality, where their runes began to change into our atoms, allowing Earth/Glorantha cross-overs.

Is the Void in question the same Void mentioned in Cults of Terror p11? That being the void that lies beyond the Sky Dome? 

Extra bonus question: Will they find all the people eaten by the Crimson Bat floating around out there ?

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On 12/21/2015 at 1:44 AM, Noita said:

Who and what are they? 

I had the pleasure of occasionally cornering Greg and getting the chance to ask him about these sorts of things. In general, Glorantha is full of a lot of "one-liner" references that never really got fleshed out. By "one-liners" I mean that they are mentioned only once or twice and often with just a single sentence. Another such example of a one-liner would be Falangian Wine in King of Sartar. When I asked about that Greg just said, "That's up to the reader to decide what it is". 

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Hope that Helps,
Rick Meints - Chaosium, Inc.

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21 minutes ago, Rick Meints said:

I had the pleasure of occasionally cornering Greg and getting the chance to ask him about these sorts of things. In general, Glorantha is full of a lot of "one-liner" references that never really got fleshed out. By "one-liners" I mean that they are mentioned only once or twice and often with just a single sentence. Another such example of a one-liner would be Falangian Wine in King of Sartar. When I asked about that Greg just said, "That's up to the reader to decide what it is". 

Yep. And a lot of these one-liners should not and will not get defined outside of the individual reader.

The effort to answer all questions, to resolve all mysteries - well, that is what destroyed the Second Age. 

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17 hours ago, Jeff said:

The effort to answer all questions, to resolve all mysteries - well, that is what destroyed the Second Age. 

Is that really true though?  The Second Age was destroyed because some 'bright sparks' didn't understand that you don't go around trying to make new gods outside the Compromise... Again...  As such attempts invariably lets chaos in and force the Gods to intervene.  That's hardly a mystery in my book. 😄

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Single-sentence, throwaway references are important, they lace settings with apparent contradictions or loose ends that get people's imaginations running, or at least makes it feel like a real, lived-in world. Like with Tolkien mentioning Were-worms or Varyags of Khand, or the Blue Wizards or most famously Tom Bombadil (although he's quite a bit more than a few sentences). 

I don't know what the technical term is, but I tend to think of it as "horizon-making". Giving people the impression that there is always something more than they can see (ie. know/understand). 

All that aside, I find the explanation above cool and interesting and exactly the kind of thing experimental sorcerers would get up to. 

The basic, fundamental, (ostensible) irreducible runes of Glorantha as "atoms" makes perfect sense, no need to involve RW particle physics. It's basically David Hume having a go at deconstructing Platonic ideals down to the most primitive forms. Maybe something like Aristotelian qualities (form, mass, expanse, etc.) but with the Gloranthan twist. Applied abstract philosophy! Maddening and VERY dangerous.

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32 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I don't know what the technical term is, but I tend to think of it as "horizon-making". Giving people the impression that there is always something more than they can see (ie. know/understand). 

Love that term. 

Life is messy and the closer the work of imagination gets to real time spontaneity, the more valuable these throwaway tricks of the hand are. They keep the line moving and maintain the spell over the audience that suspends disbelief. And with the right audience and enough practice in crafting your throwaway beats, you can nudge the audience to help you out and fill in the next few beats on their own. Then you can coast for a few measures, recharge, take a deep breath ahead of the next verse. Historically game writers have been harried people, always one beat ahead of the deadline, so this temporary relief is invaluable. 

The advantage private dreams have over this kind of narrative creation is that the sleeper has endless subjective time to ponder all the angles and experiment with the details. Most of the results aren't worth taking with you when you open your eyes, but it's okay. The bits that stick are probably weird and meaningful enough to feed into your waking story without embarrassing yourself too much . . . maybe you'll hook their dream on your line and they'll push your now shared work forward.

Of course where it gets interesting is that the world is built up out of these dream particles and our own effort. For most people the world is some fraction of dust just out of reach like the blue wizards you mention, practically a meaningless editorial glitch between the load-bearing blocks we can see behind everyday life at a distance. The dust is the seed of the next block. The blocks wear down to dust and recede to the dream again to refresh the next cycle [age], and so it goes. 

The mind goes where it goes. Call the dust atoms or runes, we shall not cease from exploration. 

 

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  • 3 months later...
On 1/4/2022 at 12:14 PM, Darius West said:

Thanks for the clarification.  I thought the irreducible components of Glorantha were Runes not Atoms?  Point taken about the irreducibility of Atoms, from the philosophy of Democritus et al.

"Atom" just means "irreducible component". Same thing. So if the runes are the irreducible components, then they are the atoms.

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On 4/13/2022 at 6:38 AM, PhilHibbs said:

"Atom" just means "irreducible component". Same thing. So if the runes are the irreducible components, then they are the atoms.

I think the Outer Atomic Explorers found a universe like our own that is constructed of atoms not runes, and were promptly engaged in an isekai scenario they couldn't escape from.  After all, their magic likely didn't work in the atom universe as it was based on different principles.  Also, why specifically use the word atom when you should say Rune?  Alleged atomic indestructibility aside (we have never found an atom irl based on that definition), they aren't called  the Outer Runic Explorers.

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9 minutes ago, Darius West said:

I think the Outer Atomic Explorers found a universe like our own that is constructed of atoms not runes, and were promptly engaged in an isekai scenario they couldn't escape from.  After all, their magic likely didn't work in the atom universe as it was based on different principles.

There's a thread for things like that.

Edited by PhilHibbs
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2 minutes ago, Darius West said:

So because I disagree with you, my theory must be dumb?  How nice of you.

It wasn't meant in a mean way. I love that thread and everything in it. It was meant as a compliment.

Edited by PhilHibbs
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@PhilHibbs I think speculation on who the outer atomic explorers are is reasonable in a thread which asks who and what the outer atomic explorers are 😉

If they are fools who venture outside of Glorantha, then if they bring a piece of the outside inside, whether that be knowledge or a physical artefact, how can that be a good thing? I'm sure if they try hard they might find a new pseudo-cosmic egg, or a special way of mixing different magics, or a new rune.

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15 minutes ago, EricW said:

@PhilHibbs I think speculation on who the outer atomic explorers are is reasonable in a thread which asks who and what the outer atomic explorers are 😉

Of course it is. What I meant was, "that's crazy and brilliant, go share it on this thread for crazy but brilliant ideas". I could have been more clear, but jokes stop being funny if you explain them whilst telling them.

15 minutes ago, EricW said:

If they are fools who venture outside of Glorantha, then if they bring a piece of the outside inside, whether that be knowledge or a physical artefact, how can that be a good thing? I'm sure if they try hard they might find a new pseudo-cosmic egg, or a special way of mixing different magics, or a new rune.

Well all three of those have already happened in Glorantha.... or is that your point, that Nysalor, The Red Moon, and Argrath's warlocks are all the OAE's fault? There's a thread for that... 😆 You could have thrown in "an immortal god-emperor that washes up on the shores one day". Maybe he was the new pseudo-cosmic egg.

I should search the Dumbest Theories thread to see if anyone's already suggested Belintar was an OAE, that's got to be a thing already.

Edited by PhilHibbs
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10 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

Well all three of those have already happened in Glorantha.... or is that your point, that Nysalor, The Red Moon, and Argrath's warlocks are all the OAE's fault? There's a thread for that... 😆 You could have thrown in "an immortal god-emperor that washes up on the shores one day". Maybe he was the new pseudo-cosmic egg.

I should search the Dumbest Theories thread to see if anyone's already suggested Belintar was an OAE, that's got to be a thing already.

No, I'm not suggesting any of those events were due to OAE. What I'm suggesting is given the history of what happened when new things entered Glorantha, a group of people who deliberately venture outside Glorantha in order to bring back new things, even if that is just new knowledge, is probably not an activity which will have a happy ending.

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On 12/21/2015 at 7:20 PM, David Scott said:

The Outer Atomic Explorers attempted to not be destroyed by chaos by rendering themselves, or their vessel, down to it's simplest possible form. By making it very difficult for them to be destroyed, they could get into chaos.

Another way of looking at this is that they where attempting to purify themselves, which suggests the God Learner project, connected to the Zistorites, of trying to create the Purify rune, that would be capable of reversing entropy and returning things to their pure nature before the Fifth Action screwed everything up. 
 

1 hour ago, Darius West said:

Also, why specifically use the word atom when you should say Rune? 

Because there is a difference between the purest abstraction of a property of reality, and the smallest indivisible unit of that property, and atom is the correct term for the latter? 
Essentially, I don’t like your idea much personally, because it relies on Gloranthans using the word Atomic in a sense that modern science does, rather than as Democritus would have. To Ancient Greek philosophers, the term sub-atomic is nonsensical because if there is something smaller than an atom, it’s not an atom. And the idea that we have a God Learner sect trying to turn the universe back to when the Zzaburite worldview was true, before Hrestol and Arkat and barbarian gods were necessary, appeals to me more than some sort of Moorcockian multiverse interacting with Glorantha does (not that Moorcockian multiverses don’t have their charms). But that’s just my personal reaction - I don’t think there should be any official position on such obscure single references, and we can interpret them to suit the exciting ideas they invoke in us as we wish for our own wildly speculative campaign ideas.

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16 hours ago, davecake said:

To Ancient Greek philosophers, the term sub-atomic is nonsensical because if there is something smaller than an atom, it’s not an atom. And the idea that we have a God Learner sect trying to turn the universe back to when the Zzaburite worldview was true, before Hrestol and Arkat and barbarian gods were necessary, appeals to me more than some sort of Moorcockian multiverse interacting with Glorantha does (not that Moorcockian multiverses don’t have their charms). But that’s just my personal reaction - I don’t think there should be any official position on such obscure single references, and we can interpret them to suit the exciting ideas they invoke in us as we wish for our own wildly speculative campaign ideas.

Glorantha has other worlds, and has strange and terrible realms like wherever the gate of Banir led to, and the Red Goddess' private hell, which may or may not be part of Glorantha proper, but is incredibly difficult to reach, without the help of the Goddess. And of course there is wherever the dragons hang out, Arkat's stead, various places of preparation or waiting, and hideous places like the Plateau of Terror, which may or may not be accessible by some path.

So I suggest Gloranthan Canon is already brushing the edges of a Moorcockian multiverse. You could argue these different realms are all part of the Gloranthan underworld or whatever, but isn't that just code for saying "I don't know where it is"? Surely describing all the other places as part of the underworld is just what surface world dwellers say about strange and terrible realms which they cannot properly describe, which they know only by whispered rumour and the rantings of madmen, and which they likely will never visit in person ;-).

Edited by EricW
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On 4/15/2022 at 10:31 AM, EricW said:

So I suggest Gloranthan Canon is already brushing the edges of a Moorcockian multiverse.

Not really - these are all clearly metaphysically different realms, not alternate worlds for mortals. 

 

On 4/15/2022 at 10:31 AM, EricW said:

You could argue these different realms are all part of the Gloranthan underworld or whatever, but isn't that just code for saying "I don't know where it is"? 

Literally no, because saying it is in the underworld is literally saying you DO know where it is, it is in the underworld. The underworld is a place. It has different qualities to other places, that are distinct from various other metaphysical places. 

 

On 4/15/2022 at 10:31 AM, EricW said:

which they likely will never visit in person

Oh, almost everyone visits the underworld eventually. It’s coming back to tell other people about it that’s tricky. 

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If nobody said it in the Dumb theory thread, I will say so: I am sure Belintar was a God Learner survivor, and his survival after the fall makes me think he was not in Glorantha at the time, so I think it is likely he is/was an Outer Atomic Explorer that managed to get back. 

No idea how he left Glorantha and how he came back, except that I suppose he entered the mortal realms through a hole in the sun dome, his "ship" fell victim to the Closing, almost killing him, but he recovered most of it later and it became part of the basement of the City of Wonders and the powering unit of his roads. 

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