Jump to content
M Helsdon

A Bronze Age World

Recommended Posts

52 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Most importantly, by saying "Bronze Age" we make it clear that it is not the post-Roman Dark Ages and that Glorantha belongs to those mists before Athens or Rome. Broaden yourself beyond Classical Antiquity to Mycenae, Knossos, Troy, Ur, Hattusa, Uruk, Mohenjo-Daro, Thebes, Akhetaten, Susa, Unetice and Urnfield cultures, Sea Peoples,  and more. Of course there are elements of the Classical there as well, but reach beyond and before it. 

Indeed. And as Greg puts it in his foreword to the Guide to Glorantha:

"Glorantha is the epic cross between the Iliad, Gilgamesh, and the Bhagavad Gita with the sword and sorcery of Robery E. Howard and the fantasy of Lord Dunsany.

Unlike most fantasy settings, Glorantha draws its inspiration for the ancient world. It has far more to do with Babylon, Classical Greece, Ancient China, Hybrid and Lankhmar that does with medieval Europe, Le Mort d'Arthur. pr the Hundred Years Wars. Its heroes are Achilles, Conan, Gilgamesh and Rostum, not Galahad, Lancelot or Roland.

Glorantha is the technicolor cure for bland pseudo-medieval generic fantasy."

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jeff said:

Glorantha is both Bronze Age in terms of Hesiod categorization and in terms of technology (with plenty of exceptions of course). Although bronze CAN be directly mined (in places where lots of Storm Gods fell, like in Dragon Pass, atop Valind's Glacier, etc.), it is more commonly created as an alloy of tin and copper (most bronze found in lowland Pelorian or Kralorelan is an alloy).

Except it's not really Bronze - at least not the same metal alloy that exists on Earth.

 

But then, if the introduction said "Glorantha is a Ga-metal and Ze-metal  age world" (:huh:), it wouldn't be of much use. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

Except it's not really Bronze - at least not the same metal alloy that exists on Earth.

 

But then, if the introduction said "Glorantha is a Ga-metal and Ze-metal  age world" (:huh:), it wouldn't be of much use. :)

Who knows? I'm not sure Glorantha even has protons, neutrons, and electrons. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bronze and Brass are alloys that resemble the real world alloy and compound, but have different properties.

39 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Who knows? I'm not sure Glorantha even has protons, neutrons, and electrons. 

Glorantha has a few fundamentally different assumptions - the whole universe is tied to a source of energy, the Ultimate, which dissipates through the natural laws aka runes and whichever entities attached to these, to dissipate on the far side into entropic void.

This means that assumptions like the law of conservation of mass don't necessarily apply. A flame may be powered by fuel, or it may be powered from the Ultimate.

Cold is not an absence of heat, but a power in its own right.

At Creation, Grower was able to increase the content of the universe, creating mass to fill the available space, and then some more when Umath expanded that space.

I am not sure that Glorantha knows interference. Prisms might split the light according to completely different principles, and not necessarily into colors.

 

Electrons might be a thing - amber rubbing on wool should raise hairs, and plasma/flame/lightning might be the separation of electrons from cores. If we can find a different explanation for these effects which might have a better magical feel, I'd go for them if they aren't too silly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jeff said:

Who knows? I'm not sure Glorantha even has protons, neutrons, and electrons. 

I would go so far as to say that I'm certain that it doesn't. The fundamental building blocks of Gloranthan reality are runes, not tiny tiny particles. Fundamentally, matter consists of the elements, organised by the other runes.

I don't particularly like the description of Dwarven earthsense: 'Dwarves have a sense, unique to them, called “earthsense”. It is like long-distance touch, and permits them to sense heat, air pressure, and air currents with remarkable accuracy', or the way Troll Darksense is described as sonar. I would much rather see that Dwarves have an Earthsense because they're connected to the Earth rather than because of quirk of their biology, and that trolls can see in the dark because of course they can - it's seeing in the light that's tricky for them! We don't need any God-Learner explanations for how it works! (I'm reminded of the awesome suggestion that Troll Vampires can't stand the darkness, and have to dwell forever in the light.)

Edited by Akhôrahil
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

I don't particularly like the description of Dwarven earthsense: 'Dwarves have a sense, unique to them, called “earthsense”. It is like long-distance touch, and permits them to sense heat, air pressure, and air currents with remarkable accuracy', or the way Troll Darksense is described as sonar. I would much rather see that Dwarves have an Earthsense because they're connected to the Earth rather than because of quirk of their biology, and that trolls can see in the dark because of course they can - it's seeing in the light that's tricky for them! We don't need any God-Learner explanations for how it works! (I'm reminded of the awesome suggestion that Troll Vampires can't stand the darkness, and have to dwell forever in the light.)

AFAIK the Dwarf Earthsense is actually a sensation of motion (as they are tied to the stasis rune).  Likewise the Uz IMO do not actually use sound for their darksense but use the darkness (the means their darksense is stuffed in extremely bright light).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, metcalph said:

AFAIK the Dwarf Earthsense is actually a sensation of motion (as they are tied to the stasis rune).  Likewise the Uz IMO do not actually use sound for their darksense but use the darkness (the means their darksense is stuffed in extremely bright light).

While I agree about the "stasis sense" approach, I think that the dwarves perceive the immotion of things, and are able to target those things that defy that immotion or perfectly repititive cyclical motion (another form of stasis).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, metcalph said:

AFAIK the Dwarf Earthsense is actually a sensation of motion (as they are tied to the stasis rune).  Likewise the Uz IMO do not actually use sound for their darksense but use the darkness (the means their darksense is stuffed in extremely bright light).

I like this a lot better than what the Guide gives us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Joerg said:

While I agree about the "stasis sense" approach, I think that the dwarves perceive the immotion of things, and are able to target those things that defy that immotion or perfectly repititive cyclical motion (another form of stasis).

I like this as well.  It's only an "earthsense" in the sense that much of the Earth has succumbed to immotion.  It doesn't work well on the surface because everything is a mixture of growth and motion and must be like a "whiteout" (or a really, really bad acid trip).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Joerg said:

Electrons might be a thing - amber rubbing on wool should raise hairs, and plasma/flame/lightning might be the separation of electrons from cores. If we can find a different explanation for these effects which might have a better magical feel, I'd go for them if they aren't too silly.

When in doubt, I go with "it's an unexpected/unexplored form of this OTHER thing we know..."   So if your hairs raise when spirits are about... maybe amber-rubbed-on-wool summons spirits for some reason, or opens a gate to the spirit world....?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I would go so far as to say that I'm certain that it doesn't. The fundamental building blocks of Gloranthan reality are runes, not tiny tiny particles. Fundamentally, matter consists of the elements, organised by the other runes.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, my belief is that if the Zistorites ever invented the Gloranthan equivalent of an electron microscope, they'd see that all matter (in fact, all reality) is made up of tweensy-weency runes.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MOB said:

As I have mentioned elsewhere, my belief is that if the Zistorites ever invented the Gloranthan equivalent of an electron microscope, they'd see that all matter (in fact, all reality) is made up of tweensy-weency runes.

Seeing the runes in things (if not perhaps at the micro level) is what the God-Learners' RuneQuest Sight does, correct?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Seeing the runes in things (if not perhaps at the micro level) is what the God-Learners' RuneQuest Sight does, correct?

Not quite as it appears to be a set of techniques in which the "seeing: appears to be but one part. GtG page 135:

Quote

[RuneQuest Sight]. It apparently allowed initiates to see the world as a series of patterns, relationships, and repetitive reflections which could be organized according to the now famous Runes. Their Heroquesters followed the paths of their Runes through the Otherworld, and then shaped the Otherworld by planting those Runes into other parts of it. 

It's likely the technique mimics the basics of sorcery, but applied in the Otherworld: Summon/Dismiss, Command, Combine/Separate, Tap. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, MOB said:

As I have mentioned elsewhere, my belief is that if the Zistorites ever invented the Gloranthan equivalent of an electron microscope, they'd see that all matter (in fact, all reality) is made up of tweensy-weency runes.

While the Westerners are familiar with the concept of transforming energy into matter and extracting energy from the Material World, I think they would be extremely uncomfortable with the wave(energy)/particle dichotomy of quantum mechanics.

Notions of prima materia, energy and intellect are well-accepted to exist beyond the runes, so there would be no conceptional problem with transrunic metaphysics other than lacking a frame of reference.

Runes are a bit like the immaterial particles (like muons and gluons) of particle physics - only a few like the elements exist in directly observable material form, most of the others are the invisible forces that hold the world together.

I do think that there are techniques for measuring the Three Worlds association index of any object or magic - essence, godworld, spirit world, with any extras or missing bits either mystical realms or underworld. There exist advanced tapping protocols like those of the Boristi which pay attention to such things (possibly a bit too much, as they might overlook the transfer of a Chaos taint while tampering with these protocols during tapping).

A lot of sorcery is the alchemy of energies. Runes are a useful description of these things on the sorcerous level of understanding, i.e. the adept plane of sorcery spells. This fairly abstract realm of thought is way beyond the understanding of ordinary magic users, even those dabbling in sorcery or alchemy who use it by rote rather than through deeper understanding.

Runes are conduits to the Ultimate, the unreal anchor for reality that all those mystics get so meditative about. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Joerg said:

While the Westerners are familiar with the concept of transforming energy into matter and extracting energy from the Material World, I think they would be extremely uncomfortable with the wave(energy)/particle dichotomy of quantum mechanics.

As @MOB said, they'd just find very small runes, no need to bring particle physics into it. They don't actually have to. They just imagine that they are infinitely small. Using Democritus's atomic theory from 465BC, and replacing the word atom with runes, would seem to work perfectly for the notion of Western understanding of the Runes:

  • All matter consists of invisible particles called runes.
  • runes are indestructible. 
  • runes are solid but invisible.
  • runes are homogenous.
  • runes differ in size, shape, mass, position, and arrangement.

I'd also add in for Glorantha that the chaos rune may alter the above.

It would seem to me that the more you focus down on a pure rune the more you enter the otherworld. I found this book is a very useful guide to this sort of thing:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mysticism-Pelican-F-C-Happold/dp/0140205683

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I would go so far as to say that I'm certain that it doesn't.

I agree with you, since the Paradygm is so differernt, but...

20 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

The fundamental building blocks of Gloranthan reality are runes, not tiny tiny particles. Fundamentally, matter consists of the elements, organised by the other runes.

is quite similar to our building blocks, with matter consisting of the periodic elements, known and unknown (plus dark matter), organized by the universal forces

 

Oh and are the gods the gods because they control the runes (or some aspect of the runes), or do they control the runes because they are gods?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm.  Sorry, but to this scientific mind, the concept of tiny Runes as the basis of reality is going a bit too far.  I see no contradiction in there being fundamental physical laws upon which Runes can act.

Edited by Yelm's Light

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Yelm's Light said:

Hmm.  Sorry, but to this scientific mind, the concept of tiny Runes as the basis of reality is going a bit too far.  I see no contradiction in there being fundamental physical laws upon which Runes can act.

but just think, somewhere in Seshnela a team of Malkion lead by the famous wizard Oppenheimer seek to end all wars… ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Psullie said:

but just think, somewhere in Seshnela a team of Malkion lead by the famous wizard Oppenheimer seek to end all wars… ;)

Made even more difficult by having 40 or 50 basic particles and myriad interactions to deal with.

More likely, the mighty sorceror Oppen Heimer would be researching how to steal a piece of a star, deliver and unleash it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

Oh and are the gods the gods because they control the runes (or some aspect of the runes), or do they control the runes because they are gods?

Yes.

Sorcerers would say - the God's are anthropomorphised runes

Theists would say - the Gods are embodiment of the runes

Animists would say - the Gods are great spirits, and so embodiments of the runes

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, Yelm's Light said:

Hmm.  Sorry, but to this scientific mind, the concept of tiny Runes as the basis of reality is going a bit too far.  I see no contradiction in there being fundamental physical laws upon which Runes can act.

Fortunately the Guide to Glorantha Group Read is making us do the legwork, page 7:

Quote

World Structure

Glorantha is a magical world, not a planet floating in space. Its universe obeys other laws than those of terrestrial physics. The Inner World, the world of mortals, is shaped like a huge cube of earth floating in a limitless sea of water...

 

Edited by David Scott

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

building blocks

Not to get overly uh literal but in this uh context I tend to think of the runes as the equivalent of a cosmic alphabet, semiotic characters that a clever person can interpret, arrange and rearrange to read and write reality. We all have a combination of runes in our personal "signature," as it were, a kind of true name. Runes in common open up cabbalistic correspondences for magicians to exploit. The great gods are themselves the stories around the letters. But then again, I spent a lot of time in the postmodern '80s.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, scott-martin said:

Not to get overly uh literal but in this uh context I tend to think of the runes as the equivalent of a cosmic alphabet, semiotic characters that a clever person can interpret, arrange and rearrange to read and write reality. We all have a combination of runes in our personal "signature," as it were, a kind of true name. Runes in common open up cabbalistic correspondences for magicians to exploit. The great gods are themselves the stories around the letters. But then again, I spent a lot of time in the postmodern '80s.

I am much more open to reading the Runes as semiotic characters in a perfect alphabet capable of infinite rearrangement and interpretation, and yet contain an obvious "grammar." But then again, Eco's "Search for the Perfect Language" is in my top ten favorite books. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And the Zistorites were cabbalistic rather than scientific. What do you think their rune combinatory engines were but powered (and near infinite) Llullian wheels?

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In fact, I think the caballistic nature of the Zistorites is pretty explicit in they stuff I wrote in Middle Sea Empire.

The Will of Malkion created the One Book, to give guidance so that humankind might restore the Law of the Creator.  The visible One Book presented to the Church Witnesses is only one of the possible permutations of the runes of the eternal One Book, as the Invisible God presented it at Creation.  By rearranging the runes of the One Book in solemn prayer and contemplation, we may someday arrive again at the original Law.  As Umburudu the Whisperer observed, “since the Invisible God created the world by combining written Runes it must follow that these Runes were not representations of pre-existing things, but the very things by which the elements of the universe are molded.”  But the important thing is not the finding, it is the seeking, it is the devotion with which one spins the wheel of prayer and scripture, discovering the truth little by little.  Our error was that we lacked the patience and the dedication for that long quest – we sought short cuts that would give us the truth immediately.  We sinned against the Law, against that which created and sustains the world.  Now we are punished for it.

The Word and the Law revealed by the One Book is not merely a work of the Invisible God, like our essences or the universe itself; it is one of the attributes of the Creator, like His eternity or His mind.  Outside of the Word and Law is only Chaos - the Void and Annihilation.  Deciphering and correctly interpreting the Sacred Scripture is the key to perceiving and understanding the Law of Creation.  This is the science of the purification of the heart.  Mystic logic, the runes on the wheels of prayer whirling in infinite change, it is the world of bliss, it is the music of thought, but one must proceed slowly, and with caution. 

Unfortunately for us all, the Reconstructionalists and their offspring have proven unable to walk the fine line between contemplation of the Word and the Law and manipulation of the Runes into a talisman, an instrument of dominion over nature.  They took the spinning prayer wheel and turned it into a tool to master the Law.  For example, the Logical Circles of the Reconstructionalists, which show every possible combination between sets of Runes, are used by every God Learner school and movement.  The five elemental Runes embrace 120 combinations, the Ten Polarities have 3,628,800 possible arrangements, and the Thirty Core Runes give rise to more than 265 thousand billion billion billion combinations.  To reconstruct all of the Law through such techniques would take nearly 8 billion billion billion years.

A radical group of Reconstructionalists asked, if a mere circle subdivided into compartments could give rise to so many combinations, what wonders might we get from multiple concentric, revolving disks made of metal, each with ten, fifteen, twenty, or even thirty compartments?  These radicals – later called the Zistorites after their “Machine God” or “Artificial Demiurge” sought to recreate the original Law by mechanical combinations of Runes and thereby reconstitute the universe.  They constructed their “Divine Machine” to aid them – a myriad of automated Logical Circles and prayer wheels endlessly generated new combinations of the Word and the Law.  Teams of monks venerated and schools of sorcerers studied each and every combination made by Zistor.  In their mad pride, the Zistorites usurped Makan with their own construct, which they had created to rewrite the One Book!

 Like the Creator, Zistor’s output of combinations needed to define all of creation, which meant that an endless number of these combinatory engines must be assembled.  In every city of the Empire, their noisy machines could be heard, spinning, combining, and reconstructing the Law of Creation.  The Zistorites enjoyed the full support of the Emperor and the Church.  Following the successful campaign of the Archduke of Slontos in Kethaela, the Zistorites were given dominion in the conquered Mirrorsea lands to provide the resources to complete Zistor.  There, on flat and grassy island, the Zistorites built a great machine - a vast array of furnaces, pipes and gears that tirelessly operated mechanized engines, spun prayer wheels, and powered combinatory cylinders – to define all of creation.  In the conquered lands, Zistorite workshops and slaves provided the tools and resources for the great Machine.  Endlessly, the Divine Automaton worked to transmute Creation, aided by the prayers, veneration and songs of the Zistorites.

During the reign of Emperor Ilotos, the process became fully automaton.  Manipulating the words of the Law, the Zistorites had constructed a machine as a short cut in the process of recreating the original Law.  Zistor, however, awakened as the blasphemous “artificial demiurge” – the Machine God – which rewrote the Law of Creation and paid no heed to whether the Law had too many runes or too few.   Creation shall recoil against this Artificial Demiurge and our perversity exposed; the calamities that now beset us are just the beginning of our deserved end! 

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×