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Questions on the History of Balazar


Jon Hunter

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On 12/6/2016 at 7:25 AM, M Helsdon said:

The Lightbringers took their 'bodies' into the Underworld. So did Yelm:

Howling, he fled on the trail which Grandfather had taken, and hid in the Underworld.

I refer you to King of Sartar, the Lightbringers' Quest:

Aklor, the son of Luath and Jeleka, was the Luathan leader. Aklor escorted Orlanth and his companions across their beautiful, but shadowed land to the magnificent, vacant palace of their ruler. This was Rausa, goddess of the Western Gates. She hated Orlanth because he had killed her father, Yelm, and banished him to remain forever below her own Western Gates. Rausa had been the last to see him in the world of the living. She hated Orlanth so much that she smeared herself with her father’s crimson blood to remind herself to take revenge. She hated Orlanth so much that, whenever she had the strength, she armed and rose up from the horizon to look for him. She wished to send Orlanth to her father’s fate, and then lock the Gate of the West behind him. Now, at last, he was here, in her palace.

However, she also feared Orlanth and what he could probably do to her, her people, and to her palace if he unleashed all his powers. She knew it would be difficult to kill him if he was alone, and he was not. He would be hard to kill if he was unarmed, which he was not. He would be hard to trick, too, since he was so well advised.

So Princess Rausa asked him what he wanted here, in her house. And Orlanth spoke simply.

“I wish to travel beyond your home,” he said, “and through the Gate of the West, and have them locked behind me.”

And the goddess was so happy that her wish had come true that she did not ask what his business there was, or with what intent he entered into this, or what end he hoped to accomplish. She collected the fee for going to the Underworld, then ordered the gate keepers, Vamth and Rhylor, to wrench the great doors open, and to lock them again when the travelers went through.

So for the gods to enter the Underworld was to die. And later:

This agreement between the gods is called the Cosmic Compromise. All of the deities agreed to share the world with each other, and with all of the experiences which they had already had. No one was allowed to avoid what they did not like, and so all of the gods agreed that they would share their time among both Life and Death. They agreed to these things, and that they would not actively intervene in each other’s realms except in those ways which they had already done. They would not individually or consciously alter the world. They would not even turn their awareness to it, unless called upon to do so.

Yelm died when Orlanth used Death to slay him; Orlanth died when he entered the Underworld.

Both were released from the Underworld, part of the time, when they agreed the Great Compromise.

When Orlanth dies 'permanently' after the Fall of Whitewall there are major ramifications because he (and Ernalda) are trapped in the Underworld. This brings on the Great Winter in Dragon Pass. The details are part of the campaign of The Eleven Lights. When the Lunars kill Orlanth the Great Compromise is damaged, which has ongoing implications.

No, that is not how it works, in Glorantha, or terrestrial mythologies.

For example in the story Inanna's Descent to the Underworld, the goddess is only freed from death in the Underworld when she sends her lover Dumuzi there in her place. The template of the dying and resurrecting god, of which Dumuzi is the earliest example we know of, has continued throughout history in the Near East.

 

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On 12/6/2016 at 7:25 AM, M Helsdon said:

The Lightbringers took their 'bodies' into the Underworld. So did Yelm:

Howling, he fled on the trail which Grandfather had taken, and hid in the Underworld.

Except that the EXACT example here compares Yelm's death to that of Grandfather mortal.  When Grandfather Mortal died, he left behind his body, and his spirit went to the underworld. Apparently Yelm's death copies this death by implication.  This is qualitatively very different to what the Lightbringers do.

As to the King of Sartar Lightbringer Quest, there is clearly a quantifiable difference between going through the gate the way the Lightbringers did and the way Grandfather Mortal and Yelm did.  Does it say that the Lightbringers then cut their wrists, lost their bodies and stepped beyond the Gate of Dusk?  No.  And here's the rub.  If the Lightbringers wanted to do that they could have killed each other at the start of the quest and saved themselves the journey to the edge of the world in favor of the shorter route.

So I would argue that the Lightbringer journey is more like that of Orpheus than that of Inanna.  Orpheus was physically present in the underworld.

I would also argue that what happens to Orlanth after the Fall of Whitewall is the style of death that Yelm suffered that ushered in the Lesser Darkness. Not a  mere entering of the underworld, but an actual separation of spirit from body.

Clearly there is something very qualitatively different between the alleged "death" of Orlanth during the Lightbringer Quest and what happens to him after the Fall of Whitewall.  During the former Orlanth's Ring dips below the horizon.  During the latter it doesn't rise again, and the result is a bit like the Lesser Darkness, in that the world is very altered.  I argue that is because journeying into the underworld is not ipso facto, death.  Clearly Rausa did not entirely understand the process as she had not gone beyond the Gate and come back, while Trickster had, so Rausa makes the mistake of thinking that those who pass the gate are dead, but Trickster knows better for he not only died but came back on his own steam and brought death back with him for a bit of a joke.

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On 12/6/2016 at 6:37 PM, Steve said:

If you are in the land of the Dead - aka the Underworld - you are dead. Just like Inanna was dead when she came before her sister Erishkigal's Court. But if you are a hero, you might know a secret path out of the land of the Dead and back to the land of the living - which pretty much makes Death more of an inconvenience than a final destination.

I suspect you are using the term "death" simultaneously more broadly and more narrowly than a Gloranthan would.

I'm surprised that anyone would still be trying to argue against what Jeff has already said so clearly above

While YGWV, as Greg, Jeff and others have always encouraged, I don't think it's helpful to try and argue that what Jeff has said here is "wrong". That's very different from just choosing an alternative interpretation for your own games.

 

Why narrowly assume that this Inanna myth model is correct.  Consider the "Orpheus in the Underworld" myth  as an alternative to Inanna in Egreshkigal's Court" example.  Orpheus in the myth is a living mortal in the underworld and what a man can do, a deity can do with bells on it. Many Greek heroes go to the underworld, in fact Hercules defeats Cerberus in the underworld, Odysseus goes there,  so does Theseus. 

Of course there is also the Norse version...

A journey by the hero Hadding from the History of the Danes (Gesta Danorum) by the medieval Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus features a description of a very similar notion of a subterranean underworld. Here summarised by Old Norse scholar E.O.G. Turville-Petre :

"While he was living with Ragnhild, Hadding had another mysterious experience. A woman appeared bearing some herbs. Wishing to know where such herbs grew in winter, Hadding went with this woman under the earth. They passed through mists, and then through sunny, fertile regions, where the herbs had grown. Then they came to a raging torrent, flowing with weapons. Crossing by a bridge, they came upon armies of fallen warriors, locked in eternal battle. As they pressed forward, a wall stood in their way; they could go no further, but the woman tore off the head of a cock, which she happened to have with her, and flung it over the wall. Immediately the cock came to life and crowed."

The chicken being thrown over the wall of the underworld (variously called Helgrindr, “The Fence of Hel,” Nágrindr, “Corpse-Fence,” or Valgrindr, “The Fence of the Fallen”) is worthy of particular note as it demonstrates a notion of threshold between life and death that others would later symbolize as "the veil of life and death".  On one side the chicken is dead, but cast to the other it is dead to death (-X-=+), and that means alive.  I am sure that any Jrusteli would have a field day playing with that one.

That is before we begin to look at any examples of other myth cycles.  Here is a link to the Wikipedia entry on underworlds that can serve as a jumping off point on the subject:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underworld 

The conception of a subterranean world inhabited by the dead is surprisingly common in world mythology, even in cultures that practiced cremation or ritual dismemberment instead of burial or entombment, so the obvious link to burial is not so straight forward as one might think or hope.  The notion that the Journey to the Underworld is something that only a hero can accomplish remains a constant however.  It is in many ways the quintessential Hero Quest.

Edited by Darius West
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On ‎12‎/‎8‎/‎2016 at 10:23 AM, Darius West said:

Except that the EXACT example here compares Yelm's death to that of Grandfather mortal.  When Grandfather Mortal died, he left behind his body, and his spirit went to the underworld. Apparently Yelm's death copies this death by implication.  This is qualitatively very different to what the Lightbringers do.

All nine went to the Land of the Dead, and whilst there, were dead. Grandfather Mortal stayed in the Underworld to become Judge of the Dead.

No where is it mentioned that Grandfather Mortal left his body behind.

On ‎12‎/‎8‎/‎2016 at 10:23 AM, Darius West said:

So I would argue that the Lightbringer journey is more like that of Orpheus than that of Inanna.  Orpheus was physically present in the underworld.

Orpheus was granted permission to leave the Underworld by Hades; Hades also gave permission for Eurydice to leave with him. Hades set conditions upon each of them getting out, which Orpheus broke when he had returned to the Mortal World but she had not, meaning that her permission to leave was revoked. Being already in the Mortal World when he broke the conditions, Orpheus was not trapped in the Underworld.

I appreciate you want to argue that there is a difference between being in the Underworld when dead, and journeying there whilst 'alive', but it's a meaningless distinction, because what is important is whether you have a way out. There are guardians of the Underworld who seek to keep people outside, and there are guardians who seek to keep people inside. If you get past the former, you are an inhabitant of the Underworld; if you get past the latter, you can enter the Mortal World.

Of your other examples: Theseus was trapped in the Underworld until Heracles rescued him; Heracles was able to get out of the Underworld because he overcame Cerberus, one of the guardians tasked with keeping people in, and he was aided by Hermes (who knew his way in and out as part of his role as psychopomp).

Edited by M Helsdon
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The God Learners would definitely say it was he same Raccoon God under another name. ;)

What I've seen of the Mongoose stuff has looked fun, and they managed to go deep on a lot of cool neglected bits of the setting. They had sufficient conviction to put out a Ducks book, for pete's sake. Like it or not, that deserves respect for courage alone.  Sure, it's built on a lot of deprecated interpretations of the Malkioni and such, but it's no more worthy of derision than half the stuff in old fanzines that may or may not harmonize with the current lore. 

It's good to have the current canon actually defined as a common point of reference, but that doesn't make the various apocrypha worthless crap.

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11 hours ago, JonL said:

The God Learners would definitely say it was he same Raccoon God under another name. ;)

What I've seen of the Mongoose stuff has looked fun, and they managed to go deep on a lot of cool neglected bits of the setting. They had sufficient conviction to put out a Ducks book, for pete's sake. Like it or not, that deserves respect for courage alone.  Sure, it's built on a lot of deprecated interpretations of the Malkioni and such, but it's no more worthy of derision than half the stuff in old fanzines that may or may not harmonize with the current lore. 

It's good to have the current canon actually defined as a common point of reference, but that doesn't make the various apocrypha worthless crap.

Nobody really goes to the "old fanzines" for canon (except where the article was by one of a very few key authors), or expects a citation of "otherwise unknown fan from 1993, writing in a fanzine" to carry any weight in a discussion of what is/isn't canonical.

The Mongoose stuff had the imprimatur of an "official" license, however; this gives it a prima facie "canonical" status.  It is, so far as I know, the ONLY publisher whose stuff is now seen as so far-afield as to be judged entirely non-canonical.

So when this particular source comes up in discussions of "canon," the ritual tugging-of-the-forelock and rending-of-the-garments must be performed, as must the ritual utterance of "it's not canonical of course, but..."  YGWV and Hallelujah!

 

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23 minutes ago, Jeff said:

As I have said before, Greg and I have a VERY low opinion of Mongoose's stewardship of RuneQuest. That is probably an understatement. Needless to say, the Mongoose material is less canonical than Daughters of Darkness or Elderad.

:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes: I guess you were not impressed by the editing of these two...

cults_1.jpg

cults_2.jpg

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On 12/5/2016 at 11:58 AM, Darius West said:

And who determines the canon?

Canon changes, What was canon 30 years ago might not be canon today. What is canon today might not be canon in 30 years time.

My approach is to read the sources, canonical or not, and take what I think is best and use that in my games.

Glorantha is still very much a living world. People write about Glorantha all the time. Some is canon, some is not, but it can all be used. Some writings end up as canon eventually.

When discussing Glorantha, some ideas are entrenched but are not canon. Some are canon but hardly ever used. It can be difficult when remembering something that isn't canon and using it in a discussion, but there are lots of people who would quickly point this out.

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Really?  Less canon than Lost City of Eldarad and Daughters of Darkness?  That hardly seems fair, those AH products were the nadir of RQ material ever, having not only bad editing and atrocious art, but crappy generic scenarios.  Say what you like about Mongoose, their editing definitely isn't up to scratch for example, but the art is better than AH products (it could hardly be worse), and the production value of the printing and binding is of good quality.

Having seen at least Eldarad, I am certain that Glorantha Second Age products, while not brilliant like Sun County, Griffin Mountain or Borderlands are at least of a standard equal to Apple Lane and Snakepipe Hollow.  Are there problems vis canon in GSA: Pavis Rises for example ?  Yes, but they are small problems and a work-around is eminently possible.  The "Blood of Orlanth" supplement is, perhaps surprisingly, quite good, and incorporates how Orlanthi Traditionalist, God Learner or EWF parties face different challenges as the story unfolds so a GM could potentially pit 3 parties against each other in the same scenario and watch the fur fly as they try to resolve an Orlanth vs Dragon hero quest to their side's favor.  Is the GSA: Jrustela supplement up to scratch?  Well, if a 6 paragraph gloss about a city is better than a 2 paragraph gloss about a city which has long since fallen into the sea by the 3rd Age, then yes.  On the other hand the strength of the GSA Jrustela supplement is the Hwarosian God Learning 101 lecture, which is darkly humorous, and completely within canon. 

Could the GSA products have used much better editing?  Yes, without doubt.  Are they ALL badly edited? Actually no, but some are definitely dreadful and I didn't buy many of them because of it.  I am not pretending that these supplements are all "of excellent quality and deserve an honored place in everyone's collection", but by the same token I think that some of the supplements deserve a bit more objective criticism than I think they have received.

The notion of playing Glorantha in the Second Age is fun, because it was an age when "munchkins ruled Glorantha" and horribly abused the underlying system in that minimaxing way that rules lawyers do.  In short, GSA was obviously  pitched at AD&D player in the hopes of winning converts, and Glorantha needs converts.  Could it have been done better?  Well it's no Griffin Mountain, but it is definitely better than Lost City of Eldarad.

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On 12/9/2016 at 1:54 AM, M Helsdon said:

All nine went to the Land of the Dead, and whilst there, were dead. Grandfather Mortal stayed in the Underworld to become Judge of the Dead.

No where is it mentioned that Grandfather Mortal left his body behind.

Flesh Man was the Light Bringer, Grandfather Mortal is not Flesh Man.  Grandfather Mortal was killed by Humakt, and according to Cults of Prax page 14 disappeared from myth at that point.  Subsequently Daka Fal emerged to be the Judge of the Dead, and may or may not have been Grandfather Mortal.  Now while Flesh Man is the descendant of Grandfather Mortal he is not the same entity.  As to whether Grandfather Mortal left his body behind?  The fact that Daka Fal is a shaman cult that deals with the separation of the Living and the Dead based on who owns which body is a salient point, as is the Humakti Sever Spirit spell.  Clearly bodies get left behind by dead people, and periodically, if they are lucky or know how to heal themselves from spirit form, they can come back from the dead by healing their bodies and re-establishing their spirit within them.

As an important aside, consider the Brithini.  They cannot resurrect because while they have a connection to the Infinity and the Magic Rune thanks to Zzabur, they have no connection to the Spirit Rune.  Brithini are expressions of the Man Rune without access to the Spirit Rune.  They have no means of retaining identity after death.  As a cultural aside note, this would mean that Brithini don't have ghost stories.

On 12/9/2016 at 1:54 AM, M Helsdon said:

.Orpheus was granted permission to leave the Underworld by Hades; Hades also gave permission for Eurydice to leave with him. Hades set conditions upon each of them getting out, which Orpheus broke when he had returned to the Mortal World but she had not, meaning that her permission to leave was revoked. Being already in the Mortal World when he broke the conditions, Orpheus was not trapped in the Underworld.

Incorrect.  Orpheus gained the lore of where a gate to the underworld was in Thrace, and learned that he needed to pay Charon not only the 2 obols for entry but with a sprig of mistletoe as payment on the return journey.  Of course Hades could have kept him in the underworld, Hades is after all the ruler there, but Orpheus moved Hades and Persephone with his musical lament for Euridice.  Later heroes in Greek myth learned from Orpheus and his failed "hero quest", Odysseus in particular who also uses the mistletoe trick.

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Sorry Darius, but for Greg and I (and a few others) the Mongoose era was RuneQuest's nadir. For pretty much everyone on the Glorantha and RuneQuest writing team, even mentioning a Mongoose publication is a good way to make sure you don't get read.

And no, the Second Age was not "when Glorantha was ruled by munchkin." That's one of many things that Mongoose got spectacularly wrong.

Now in Your Glorantha, you can do it however you want. But as far as any future publications go, my advice to writers is to not even read the Mongoose material.

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4 hours ago, Darius West said:

Flesh Man was the Light Bringer, Grandfather Mortal is not Flesh Man.  Grandfather Mortal was killed by Humakt, and according to Cults of Prax page 14 disappeared from myth at that point.  Subsequently Daka Fal emerged to be the Judge of the Dead, and may or may not have been Grandfather Mortal.  Now while Flesh Man is the descendant of Grandfather Mortal he is not the same entity.

Flesh man was a grandchild of Grandfather Mortal. HeroQuest Glorantha page 157.

Daka Fal was Grandfather Mortal. See The Fate of the Dead - An Orlanthi View, HeroQuest Glorantha page 69.

The clear separation of body and spirit/soul only happened as a result of the compromise. Before they were mixed, likewise the spirit world and middle world were not separate until the compromise. You can go to the underworld with your body if you choose with a heroquest, you are then dead unless you can return. If you die, depending on the nature of the quest, your body may reappear in the ritual starting point of the quest or be gone forever. When you enter the spirit world, you leave your body behind - a shaman has a fetch to guard his/hers. Others need good friends to guard theirs. If you die in the spirit world, your spirit/soul goes to the path of the dead. Your dead body remains. You can HeroQuest into the spirit world with your body if you know how. It's dangerous even to shaman to do this as a body shouldn't be there, and spirit world reacts against this, trying to push you out, normally with dangerous encounters. This is most often done to enter another realm so the dangerous spirit world crossing is short. Praxians do this when going to the Green Age, the route being: Home Camp (Spirit World) -> The Great Herd (Spirit World) -> The Wide Plains (Spirit World) ->The Greener (Other World)-> Genert's Garden (Other World).

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8 hours ago, Darius West said:

Flesh Man was the Light Bringer, Grandfather Mortal is not Flesh Man. 

Where, precisely, did I say he was?

8 hours ago, Darius West said:

Grandfather Mortal was killed by Humakt, and according to Cults of Prax page 14 disappeared from myth at that point.  Subsequently Daka Fal emerged to be the Judge of the Dead, and may or may not have been Grandfather Mortal.  Now while Flesh Man is the descendant of Grandfather Mortal he is not the same entity.  As to whether Grandfather Mortal left his body behind?  The fact that Daka Fal is a shaman cult that deals with the separation of the Living and the Dead based on who owns which body is a salient point, as is the Humakti Sever Spirit spell.  Clearly bodies get left behind by dead people, and periodically, if they are lucky or know how to heal themselves from spirit form, they can come back from the dead by healing their bodies and re-establishing their spirit within them.

Only if their spirits aren't in the Underworld... Restless spirits aboard in the mundane World are quite distinct  - they aren't bound by the 'rules and regulations' of the Underworld gatekeepers.

8 hours ago, Darius West said:

Incorrect.  Orpheus gained the lore of where a gate to the underworld was in Thrace, and learned that he needed to pay Charon not only the 2 obols for entry but with a sprig of mistletoe as payment on the return journey.  Of course Hades could have kept him in the underworld, Hades is after all the ruler there, but Orpheus moved Hades and Persephone with his musical lament for Euridice.

Perhaps you need to read the myth again. I'd suggest The Greek Myths, Robert Graves, chapter 28, paragraph c. A succinct and short version, which includes the conditions you neglected to include.

Edited by M Helsdon
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38 minutes ago, David Scott said:

The clear separation of body and spirit/soul only happened as a result of the compromise. 

I have never come across this.  What is your source please?   I would argue that the separation came when death came to the world from the underworld and bodies and spirits were first separated.  Daka Fal according to Cults of Prax is judging who is living and who is dead and helping his cult engage in body swapping hi-jinks before the beginning of time.  You say he is definitely Grandfather mortal?  Good.  He'd know.

39 minutes ago, David Scott said:

You can go to the underworld with your body if you choose with a heroquest, you are then dead unless you can return. 

You are not "dead" merely because you are in the underworld.  You are dead if you die in the underworld, and the underworld is inimical to life, which means staying alive is much harder down there.

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14 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

Only if their spirits aren't in the Underworld... Restless spirits aboard in the mundane World are quite different.

So... are you suggesting that the dead when resurrected by spells aren't in the underworld?  Isn't the Near spirit world largely coterminous with the mundane world but a spirit version of the same, with slightly different features that can be seen with the Spirit Sight spell, and only the Far Spirit World is really the Spirit plane?

14 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

Perhaps you need to read the myth again. I'd suggest The Greek Myths, Robert Graves, chapter 28, paragraph c. A succinct and short version, which includes the conditions you neglected to include.

I prefer to read Virgil's version, "The Georgics" Book 3 in Latin thanks.

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18 minutes ago, Darius West said:

So... are you suggesting that the dead when resurrected by spells aren't in the underworld?  Isn't the Near spirit world largely coterminous with the mundane world but a spirit version of the same, with slightly different features that can be seen with the Spirit Sight spell, and only the Far Spirit World is really the Spirit plane?

I have no idea what you are attempting to say.

19 minutes ago, Darius West said:

I prefer to read Virgil's version, "The Georgics" Book 3 in Latin thanks.

Book III is mostly about Livestock Farming... Orpheus features in Book IV, and your memory of the text isn't accurate.

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17 minutes ago, Darius West said:
1 hour ago, David Scott said:

The clear separation of body and spirit/soul only happened as a result of the compromise. 

I have never come across this.  What is your source please?

Me and lots of background reading, that's how I'm presenting it in the Prax book. Looking at the devolution of the Animist's world in Cults of Terror, you can see that the Primal Plasma gave rise to the runes, which included the spirit rune, but there was no separation at this point - It's called the First World, the Ultimate in Arcane Lore. So discorporate beings have existed since creation, it wasn't until the use of death that other beings could have their spirit/soul part separated from the rest of their being. The world was then filled with the living, the living who had had their bodies separated into two parts - a corporate part and discorporate part, and the beings who had always been discorporate. The discorporated living wanted their bodies back and there was no way to do this (this is a common theme real world animism and shamanism). set this against the backdrop of the Gods war and the Great Darkness and you have a mess. Daka Fal established how to tell the dead from the living and as a result was made Judge of the Dead at the Dawn. He established that the dead spirits go to their respective land of the dead, clearing the world of the confusion. The separation of the Middle world and spirit world at the dawn established the barrier between corporate living and the discorporate beings who weren't dead. Hence my use of "Clear separation".

46 minutes ago, Darius West said:

You say he is definitely Grandfather mortal?  Good.  He'd know.

I didn't say it, I think Greg was the author.

47 minutes ago, Darius West said:

You are not "dead" merely because you are in the underworld.

You are in my Glorantha. YGMV. Everyone who goes there with their body or not is treated as though dead. 

38 minutes ago, Darius West said:

So... are you suggesting that the dead when resurrected by spells aren't in the underworld?

Yes, Martin is correct here. the RQ resurrection spell only works on the spirit of the dead person that hangs around for seven days before going to the path of the dead. Look at Chalana Arroy's resurrection spell for more details. This is similar to the ideas in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which is part of the basis I'm using for Daka Fal.

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[MOB wearing Moderator hat here]

This thread has diverged a --long-- way from its original topic.

Can we split this into three or maybe four topics - 

  1. Questions on the history of Balazar - keep going here
  2. Merits or lack thereof of the Moongoose RQ stuff - can someone start a new topic?
  3. What happens when you're dead - can someone start a new topic please?
  4. Thieves cults - can someone start a new topic please (if that has not already played out)?
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