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Warthur

An interpretation of Chaos

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A speculative bit of definitely-not-canon here, but I was wondering what people thought about this little twist to the setting.

So, you have the endless sea of Chaos, and you have the world as a bubble of not-Chaos within it. Things within the world which are of Chaos want to unmake the world to get back to the sea.

Now, everything in the world was Chaos once, But now it isn't. So perhaps part of the process of transitioning from nonexistence to existence involves the stuff being brought into existence being purged of Chaos? Those things encountered within Glorantha that are of Chaos are entities which either failed to properly purge themselves of Chaos when they were brought into being - the Unholy Trio might qualify as such - or which were brought into the world without any proper attempt to purify them whatsoever (Wakboth would be an example of that).

Some of the legends of the God Time might be understood as the nascent Gods undergoing the process of purging themselves of Chaos so they could be fully manifest in the world - take, for instance, the Initiation of Orlanth, in which Orlanth and most of his siblings succeeded but Ragnaglar failed and thereafter ended up part of the Unholy Trio. Maybe the "evil" uncles in that were just trying to purge Orlanth and his siblings of any vestiges of Chaos remaining in them. Orlanth's hatred of Chaos may in part come down to him taking offence at entities trying to get away with shirking the work of becoming fully real that he and (most) of his brothers did. The apparent paradox of Yelm being associated with Illumination but not apparently having Chaotic affiliations himself may be down to Yelm retaining some understanding of the nature of Chaos after being purged of it.

In the Dawn Age the Council were not fools - they weren't deliberately trying to make Gbaji happen. But in their enthusiastic reverence of their new God they failed to make him purify himself of Chaos, or couldn't bring themselves to force him to, or never realised that it would be necessary to begin with, so the Gbaji Wars happened. Likewise, the Red Goddess successfully brought something new into the world, but either chose not to or couldn't purge the Red Moon of Chaos - perhaps she found it simply too useful to give up. Perhaps the White Moon, once you get past the White Moon Movement's propaganda, is really what the Red Moon was supposed to be if it had completed the process of entering existence properly - or the Hero Wars are in fact that process of purging which will allow the White Moon to be born from the Red, free of Chaos.

The big problem the Lunars have is that they are wrong that Chaos is a necessary part of existence; it is a necessary precursor to existence, that becoming fully extant requires one to give up. A thing that will not let go of Chaos is a thing which will never fully be what it is supposed to be. The living tainted by Chaos will live a life dedicated to undoing life; the undead raised by Chaos are dead things failing at properly being dead.

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The Lunars share the result of the Compromise: Chaos is a part of existence. Thed and Malia are acknowledged parts of existence, and numerous other chaos deities are, too. A few aren't any more - Kajabor or Wakboth either lie crushed under the Block (never mind a few appendages keeping an individual existence in the Marsh) or have been devoured and reborn as Time. Ragnaglar appears to be gone for good, too.

It is hard to say whether Chaos is a necessary part of existence, after all its goal is to end all existence. But then we have a European parliament full of parties that fight the very concept of the European Union, too, and they are part of the Union, and take its money.

 

Shannon Apple wrote a nice aldryami philosphy for his Mongoose RQ Elf book that states that Growth (transforming the raw energies of Creation into Life and Matter) at some point outgrew the Taker, and that this led to a collapse of reality. This matches very well with my own theory on the cataclysms that end the Ages of Time. Whenever an over-abundance of Creation is let into Glorantha, a mighty collapse will result, weakening the seams of the world where Arachne Solara's web joined the fragments that were left after the Greater Darkness, and seeping in as destructive Chaos.

Basically too much magic, too much creativity, too much divine presence will burst the seams of the world, and Chaos will enter. The Birth of Umath caused the universe to expand into the void. This appears to have weakened the membrane which separates the unlimited potential of the world from Creation. As a result, Death entered through the weak border in the Underworld, and for a while an equilibrium held - even with the Emperor in Hell and struggle throughout Creation. There had been phases of struggle before, like when the Emperor cheated or wrestled sovereignty from his Earth precursors, and one can imply similar struggles when the other earlier elements were replaced as the newest and dominant one. We know that Umath's early actions include leading other gods against the Predark. We have a one sentence myth about Yelm overcoming three foes upon his enthronement, Basko, Molandro and a Chaos foe (in RuneQuest Companion's Jonstown Compendium snippets). And we have Larnste stomping down on a squirming alien thing in what now is known as the Foulblood Woods located in Larnste's Footprint, how that crippled him and how other deities acted one after another to contain the damage.

Then we get the Unholy Trio conspiring to give birth to Wakboth, and cracking open the borders between Glorantha and the Void enough to let a huge army seep in and march towards the Spike, then occupy the Spike and fill the Void which resulted from its implosion.

(The destruction of the Spike or its Elder Race cognate is blamed on High King Elf wielding Death shattering the world machine axis by the Mostali, and on Zorak Zoran wielding Death striking down Flamal by the Aldriyami, and I guess that the trolls have a myth of Mostal destroying the presence of Kyger Litor on the Spike, too. Chaos just entered the Celestial Court palace, and created a rift inside all that destruction.)

Of course, Zzabur takes credit for the joint destruction of all that wasn't up to his logical standards when he blasted the Spike, and Mashunasan most likely released the mystical bolt of Untrealization upon the wrongness in the west and made it implode, distracting the Foreigner Antigods with the resulting void in their affairs.

You can blame Chaos for the (repeated) (near) destruction of reality. That's a lot easier than blaming the actions of your own deities. Or you can accept those actions, and get on with existing. Both the Orlanthi and the Lunars do. The Orlanthi need Chaos almost as much as the Lunars - in a world without it, many of the foundations of their society and their magic would be taken away (what is the I Fought We Won worth without Chaos to face?). The Praxian way of life would collapse without Chaos lurking in Prax.

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I thought Chaos explicitly wasn't part of the Great Compromise, and the various incursions since then have been the result of outright violations (Gbaji) or loopholes (the Red Moon, mmmmmmaybe)?

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3 hours ago, Warthur said:

So, you have the endless sea of Chaos, and you have the world as a bubble of not-Chaos within it. Things within the world which are of Chaos want to unmake the world to get back to the sea.

You may be considering the vestiges of Chaos named as the Pre-Dark, which were probably very different from modern Chaos. Glorantha is a tiny bubble of order within Chaos (an island of order is simply one of the many variations of chaos). Once it formed it evolved, the details of which vary depending on the metaphysical tradition you formed, going through an elemental progression and reaching a plateau of stability. There was a slow gradual leak of Chaos into Glorantha, but this was simply a raw material for the expansion and evolution of the cosmos. Then things went wrong, the order started to decay, and some of the entities within Glorantha invited Chaos in - on entering Glorantha much of that Chaos was also corrupted, as it was corrupted, so that it took on forms, personalties and the stability became unstable, with order diminishing. Only the victory in I Fought We Won and similar stands held Chaos back and the introduction of Time returned a semblance of order, replacing disintegration with entropy. But Chaos remains within Glorantha, and the portions which have being and intellect hate the restrictions that order places upon them. Where Chaos lingers it festers and grows.

Most Gloranthans realize their deities contributed towards the near end of the world, which is why, for example, the Lightbringers' Quest is so important to the Orlanthi, and why their Sacred Time rituals invite Chaos into their rite - so that it can be defeated.

The Red Moon is simply a step in the evolution towards the White Moon, as part of the resurrection of a moon goddess who died before Time.

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With regards to Orlanth's evil Uncles... they weren't chaotic... you don't have to be chaotic to be an a-hole, but many a-holes are chaotic.  The evil uncles myth is now part of the Orlanthi boys-to-men initiation ceremony, as is the I Fought We Won battle.  These HeroQuests have been watered down, and now emphasise co-operating against greater threats.

As to the beginning of the world, which version are we going to believe here?  

I mean let's consider the Chaos point of view for a moment.  Arachne Solara didn't destroy the Devil, she merely rebirthed him as Time.  Time is now an expression of entropy and things winding down.  The older things get the more they decay, and that is the hand of the Devil.  Gods live outside the effects of time, and so are immortal, but what happens when their cult atrophies away and is forgotten?  Time corrupts everything, and every 600 years he comes, the Destroyer, to unmake the world.

As to the Red Moon, they are just sweet natured, tolerant, cosmopolitan liberals.  When it comes to Chaos, they don't see it as intrinsically evil, it has just been poorly raised and badly integrated into society.  Yes chaotics have some very unwholesome appetites, but they have useful skills too.  What we need to do is give them a social context where they can excel in their skills and gain a sense of their own worth and that they are appreciated for their contribution.  Now I know that a broo that looks like an enormous bouncing penis with fangs, and has manners to match is hard to see as a sentient creature in its own right, but look at it from their perspective... unloved, un-nurtured, no opportunities, no education, no clean water, no hope, no future.  Admittedly its prospects outside the army aren't great, but if you donate just 1L a week extra on your Seven Mothers tithe to the "Save the Chaos Children" Fund, you can help poor Thrudthed have a future, a Lunar future in the Lunar way, and not wind up in another senseless victim in a cycle of endless aggression best expressed by the Endless Battle in Prax.  Don't play into the recalcitrant attitudes of the Stormbulls, there is always another way citizens.

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