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Guide to Glorantha Group Read Week 3 - Western


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Western Section discussion!

Main thread: https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/6492-guide-to-glorantha-group-read-week-3/

Week 3 errors: https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/6432-guide-to-glorantha-group-read-week-3-errors/

Here's one of the sketches for the Western illustration by Jeff Laubenstein

5963afc3508ac_WesternPeoples-Sketch.thumb.jpg.97e841bf825590bac7747476c244517d.jpg

Here's the original art direction from 2012 (links not checked):

 

Westerners Overview

Rational, materialist, and humanist, Western culture is derived from the atheist immortal philosophers that once dominated the far west reaches of the world. They are Bronze or Early Iron Age in material culture and comparable to the rich Hellenistic Greco-Indian kingdoms of the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD. Their society is divided into four hereditary castes (that of Wizard, Noble, Soldier, and Worker), each with its own rules and restrictions. They are famed for their powerful sorcerer - logical "scientists" of the magical structure of the world who reject worshiping the magical forces in the world, instead they impose their own will upon the world.

The Westerners tend towards light skin (ranging from pale to olive), with blueish-black, brown, yellow, or red hair. However, dark skin is prevalent in the southeastern provinces of Seshnela. Facial hair is regulated by caste; wizards must grow long beards, whereas nobles must shave their chin, etc. Each caste has its own distinctive clothing and attire. Men and women typically wear a length of fabric, wrapped around the waist. The laboring castes also often wear a vest, tunic, or blouse. In the cold lands of Fronela, cloaks (similar to the Greek himation or chlamys) are worn. The type and quality of fabric depends on the caste. As a general rule, the Nobles wear less clothing than the lower castes; the Noble soften wear little more than a skirt, while Workers (considered to be more physically imperfect) tend to be more covered up.

Weapons are Bronze or Early Iron Age, and the Westerners are renowned for their heavy cavalry (cataphracts) and their fierce foot Soldiers, which fight with spears, swords, and crossbows.

Fig. 1. Pithdaran wizard-priest. Pithdaros is a province in Seshnela, populated by the descendants of Agimori (Doraddi) who embraced Western ways nearly a thousand years ago. The Pithdarans are noted for the mental keenness and learning of their wizard-priests. Caste divisions and restrictions are rigidly enforced throughout Seshnela and obedience to caste law is thought to be the basis of civilization.

Western wizard-priests are called zzaburi and constitute the “blue caste”. They learn the arts of wizardry. Zzaburi are philosophers, religious functionaries, scribes, and of course, magicians. In wartime, they support the Soldiers and may compose special units. They are subordinate to the Nobles but considered more "sacred". Zzaburi are fed, housed, and appropriately honored for the labors they perform for their talars. Some serve as wizard-priests for a shrine or temple and are supported by their community. Zzaburi learn their art in a school or from a wandering teacher. They must remain celibate and seek to free themselves of all worldly interference so that they can concentrate on mental and magical exploration. As a result, unlike the other castes, new zzaburi are chosen from the children of the other castes.

Our Pithdaran wizard-priest is a tall, lean man with dark skin and a long black beard (something like this: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b9/Image-TekleHaimanot.jpg). He wears a tall hat (like this http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maciej_Krokow.jpg) but with an ornate bronze plate on the front, displaying the Law Rune with the All-Seeing-Eye within (http://api.ning.com/files/lXs7xf-VLWDRIIk6IdfN8uGHTLsRvnVJr8qTqKzRI8Kb7zLUqYuHQx5UNKXmuQhDy3bki8tbhQX3Uk84t6rHqC5NcrQfXKlr/all_seeing_eye.png). He wears ornate and elaborately decorated long-sleeved robes with a richly embroidered vest (giving the overall impression of something like a cross between the priestly vestments of the priests of the Temple of Jerusalem http://www.templestudy.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/high-priest.jpg and this http://moondesignpublications.com/files/2011/12/Sog-City.jpg). On his chest, he wears a breastplate made of iron (and looking like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kohenbreastplate.jpg) and is inscribed with runes in the following pattern (3 runes across, 4 down):

Magic Rune              Law Rune              Infinite Rune

Death Rune              Water Rune           Life Rune

Harmony Rune         Earth Rune            Disorder Rune

Stasis Rune              Fire Rune              Movement Rune

Illusion Rune            Darkness Rune      Truth Rune

The wizard-priest's hands are likely making some sort of strange occult gesture (the sort of stuff we could imagine Dr. Strange doing as illustrated by Steve Ditko). 

Fig. 2. Loskalmi Man-of-All. Loskalm, in the far north, rejects the rigid caste system that defines most Western societies. Instead, the ruling sect of New Hrestolism has created a radical egalitarian society, where every Loskalmi can identify himself as worker, soldier, wizard, or ruler; many strive to pass through the four caste occupations during their lifetime. They tend to be pale of skin and fair of hair.

The Men-of-All are the mystic guardians of Loskalm, a mystical order of warrior-monks (think Buddhist monks like the sōhei, not Christian monks) who vow to serve and defend their community, study magical grimoires, and act as judges and leaders for the common folk. They are governed by strict rules established by Hrestol for his companions. The Men-of-All learn to fight from horseback (and are thus have often been called some variation of "horse-men" by outside commentators) and are provided with weapons and mounts by their community. They are superbly self-disciplined and skilled in the martial arts.

Our female Loskalmi Man-of-All has short-cropped dark blonde hair. She is lithe, graceful, and extremely athletic. She wears an unadorned Doric Chiton (made of wool) that does not quite reach her knees, and is tied with her sword belt. Over it she wears a heavy woolen chlamys. Clearly she relies upon her mystical self-discipline to cope with the severe winters of Loskalm! She wears high woolen socks (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/7f/Islamic_sock.jpg) and sandal boots like a caligae.

She wields a long, elegant sword like a narrower version of the Goujian Sword (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f3/Goujian_sword_and_inscript_detail.svg and http://baike.baidu.com/albums/142504/142504/0/0.html#0$cf5a831645586d61f2de3270) but instead of Chinese characters it has the runes of Harmony, Law, and Death. If she needs another weapon, she has a long, equally elegant spear, or a bow and arrows.

 

Edited by David Scott

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From the illustration - missing Storm Rune! Another culture that things Storm is intrinsically dubious?

Pithdaros noted as specifically originally Doraddi, rather than Agimori, is interesting to me as a Pamaltela obsessive. 

The link to the Goujian sword is cool. The one depicted has a similar blade, but a cross guard at the pommel that is absent on the Goujian, and far larger than anything I've seen on a Chinese jian at all (and doesn't really fit my idea of 'elegant').

(Annoying aside - all the links seem to be broken, even those that aren't links to Chaosium)

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Wizardry text box - to be honest, I've always found the 'Summon/Dismiss, Command, Combine/Separate, Tap' system clumsy and limiting. It feels like an idea written down once, adhered to due to its provenance, but never well playtested. It feels a bit incoherent - they are all verbs, but Power runes are verbs also? Do you have to Summon a Rune before you Combine it? Can you Tap a Power? When do you Dismiss a Rune and when Summon it's opposite? Why not Tap if you can Tap an abstract power? More questioned raised than answered. 

I think we might have been better off without this being explicitly written into Gloranthan Wizardry. Some might say I'm overthinking it, I think the whole concept is overthinking it. 

Edited by davecake
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I'm dubious about Seshnela as the most playable Western culture, they've always struck me as merely the dullest. 

The Beast societies - I'd love to know about these particularly what magic they offer. Long ago they were presumably Hsunchen related, but presumably nothing beyond the vestigial remains? 

Finally, proper ploughs. 

I appreciate this and the Fonrit section addressing the issue of popular recreational intoxicants. Is Kafl mild or weak? More like tobacco or cannabis or opium? 

Huh, the Ancient Brithini were shortish. 

Glorious range of skin tone, indicating that Seshnela has plenty of Brithini genetics, but hopelessly mixed by Brithini standards. I assume that eg Horali families might take pride in ruddy colouring, or families from which many Zzaburi come pride in being tall and blueish. Greenish hair too!

 

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Castes

how do the Rokari, scrupulous in everything else, justify their talars not just being trained in combat, but actually being their military elite? The pragmatic answer may be that a bunch of semi-barbarians conquered them and they have to live with it, but they must have some explanation and lingering taboos as a result. 

Is their mobility, in theory or practice, between sub-castes among the Rokari? What about foreigners with no caste, clearly most are outside the system but is it possible for them to become part of it even in theory? Can a skilled expert in a trade become a member of a guild if not born into it? Can a warrior not a hereditary member join a War society?

The most likely answer seems to be that a foreigner must first convert to Malkionism (quite how it works with heretical foreigners who are some other kind of Malkioni is another question), whereupon a talar permanently assigns them a caste, and they then join a sub-caste/guild/society. 

are any of the secrets of the castes or sub-castes magical in nature? Eg do guilds have secret enchantments?

Edited by davecake
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Women - my theory is that the status of women is regarded as a caste defined by physical difference and work (their work is child bearing and rearing) like any other. The Rokari confuse this somewhat (and so think of Talar women, Horali women, etc). The Hrestoli think of women as entering the women's caste when they fall pregnant, remaining in it while their primary occupation is child rearing, but being in a separate caste while otherwise occupied.

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Ascended Masters - veneration that has no magical effect seems a weird thing to get worked up over in Glorantha. 

I suspect that veneration matters magically in a couple of ways.

i think Joy of the Heart is at least a bit related to mysticism, though Joy is not Illumination. I don't think we understand Mysticism enough to understand this just yet, and this thread is the wrong place to dive into it. But I have detailed theories in development.

And I think that Hrestoli veneration of Ascended Masters includes knowledge of, and active replication of, HeroQuest paths associated with the deeds of the master in life. These have both spiritual and practical magical significance. Plus many Ascended Masters have created their own grimoires. 

Its clear that actually sacrificing to Ascended Masters for divine magic is 1. still considered a deluded and bad idea by the Loskalmi 2. Actually a working magical practice when performed by henotheists, probably similar to theist hero cults and 3. As such, probably pretty common in areas rife with henotheism like Safelster.  

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Language- I love the idea of the Brithini having words for emotions that no longer exist. And that the Brithini believe that the spoken Western tongue is derived from the written form - presumably they believe there were separate languages for the different Danmalastan tribes, but they unified after Zzabur created the true Western script? 

Tradetalk - Theyalan, but still part of Western culture. Interesting. Due to God Learners/MSE of course. 

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Law - it's very interesting the way the Seshnelans have 3 or 6 legal systems, maybe even 7 in theory.

There are four systems of intra-caste law. Then whole of society law including both inter-caste and criminal law, as administered by Talars. Then Royal law, which sits separate to all. 

And both Talars and Zzaburi are involved in the administration of any legal decision that isn't intra-caste. 

I think this easily makes for the most complex system of law in Glorantha. 

Guessing that dronar law is mostly regulation of trade, and adjudicated by guild officials. Intra-talar law about succession, estates, and includes heraldry. Zzaburi law is essentially similar to canon law. And Horali law mostly about regulation o combat and warfare. 

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Magic - the question about magic that we need to know for gaming purposes is 'what kind of magic do Rokari that aren't Zzaburi have?' And the most natural reading of the Overview of Religious Practices section would appear to be none that merits even bothering to write into most games. 

A less natural reading might be that other castes have a small amount of practical magic for day to day tasks suited to their caste, maybe if only used by a minority? Would this even count as sorcery in game terms? 

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p48 "Umathelan city-states provide the largest overseas colonization of Western culture, done during the Second Age. They exhibit the height of city independence".  The second statement really doesn't ring true to me and I can think of a number of more interesting things to say about Umathela than height of city-state independence.  It was a statement originally about Safelster IIRC.

p48 Western Skin colours.  I find it interesting that what was originally described as a feature of the Vadeli has become extended to Brithini and Rokari.

p49  I like the Western Warrior Societies (Bull, Wolf etc).  I suggest the distant influence of the Game of Thrones and to counter that, I like to think they actually worship Telmor, Tawar etc within those societies.  It's an interesting wrinkle in the otherwise po-faced Rokari society intepretations we have had in the past.

p51.  I find it interesting that the Brithini and the Rokari have different interpretations about Women and Caste considering that the Rokari were originally presented as Neo-Brithini.

p53  I hereby vent my usual grump that the description of the Brithini as amoral is something far better applicable to the Vadeli.  The Brithini have morals - they are same as they laws which they so zealously follow.  That their laws prescribe actions rather than intentions does not make them any less moral, it just makes them different.

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1 hour ago, davecake said:

Wizardry text box - to be honest, I've always found the 'Summon/Dismiss, Command, Combine/Separate, Tap' system clumsy and limiting. It feels like an idea written down once, adhered to due to its provenance, but never well playtested. It feels a bit incoherent - they are all verbs, but Power runes are verbs also? Do you have to Summon a Rune before you Combine it? Can you Tap a Power? When do you Dismiss a Rune and when Summon it's opposite? Why not Tap if you can Tap an abstract power? More questioned raised than answered. 

The system is based on the Five Actions (well four of them in any case).  The Powers, Conditions and Elements are sources of magic (nouns in your grammatical analysis) which the wizards manipulate through the actions.

 

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1 hour ago, davecake said:

The Beast societies - I'd love to know about these particularly what magic they offer. Long ago they were presumably Hsunchen related, but presumably nothing beyond the vestigial remains? 

I think they offer rune and spirit magics but the Zzaburi look the other way.  A RW parallel is the Jannisaries who used to belong to some brotherhoods with unislamic ideas (one Trinitarian school was particular popular among those who had once been Christian) while the religious authorities were being stern with religious minorities of all sorts within the empire.

 

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34 minutes ago, davecake said:

Magic - the question about magic that we need to know for gaming purposes is 'what kind of magic do Rokari that aren't Zzaburi have?' And the most natural reading of the Overview of Religious Practices section would appear to be none that merits even bothering to write into most games. 

A less natural reading might be that other castes have a small amount of practical magic for day to day tasks suited to their caste, maybe if only used by a minority? Would this even count as sorcery in game terms? 

Both Rokari and Brithini have magics appropriate to their caste but only the Wizards of both schools are meant to have spells.  I've seen Jeff say in RQ terms that the other castes use Spirit Magics and I've read Gregly fiction which has the Brithini Horals with innate magical abilities.  

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I think you are right about the use of magic, but:

1) if that's the case, it's poorly expressed in the section under discussion - spirit magic is a lot more than kitchen charms. 

2) it would be nice for this to be made explicit somewhere

3) it's confusingly not at all the system in earlier HQ2 stuff like SKoH, where spells are common but grimoires were not. 

4) the use of spirit magic as terminology for magic that seems to have nothing to do with animism, and also as a term for animism, is very confusing.

5) it's notable that the Vadeli are notorious sorcerers yet allegedly follow the same caste rules as Brithini. 

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I think it's more or less the case that the War societies use non-Malkioni magic to some extent, just not quite sure how much. They could manipulate animal spirits using sorcerous magic, for example (which would still be against strict caste rules, but otherwise much less heretical). Or they could just be secret spirit societies and they never let the talars or Zzaburi in the meetings so there is no 'proof'. 

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I think Sorcery/Wizardry is obviously for the higher castes, given its connection with literacy. It's logical that the vast majority of Western commoners, the Dronari, learn basic magic (Spirit Magic) just like other folk throughout Glorantha. I think they may call their foci 'charms' instead of 'fetishes' perhaps, but Jeff has definitely previously clarified that Spirit Magic is common throughout Glorantha, including the Malkioni.

I suspect the Horali may use both magics, given that they need utility, although the higher ranks of the War Societies will definitely have Sorcery. The Zzurbari and Talori are obviously the masters of the more potent Sorcery spells. I would of liked this to be clarified a little better in the G2G, and hope to see this covered in a future product.

 

Edited by Mankcam
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" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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Just now, davecake said:

I think it's more or less the case that the War societies use non-Malkioni magic to some extent, just not quite sure how much. They could manipulate animal spirits using sorcerous magic, for example (which would still be against strict caste rules, but otherwise much less heretical).

Manipulating animal spirits using spells seems like something that sorcerors would do, not battle-hardened fighters.   

Just now, davecake said:

Or they could just be secret spirit societies and they never let the talars or Zzaburi in the meetings so there is no 'proof'. 

I think it's more of an open secret society.  So long as they don't change into werewolf form when attacking the nemy in sight of a Talar or Zzaburi then everyone's happy.

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2 hours ago, davecake said:

From the illustration - missing Storm Rune! Another culture that things Storm is intrinsically dubious?

Hardly - the Seshnegi have ancestral and historical ties to Aerlit. Aerlit and Seshna Likita probably were their main theist cults in the Serpent King era.

Quote

Pithdaros noted as specifically originally Doraddi, rather than Agimori, is interesting to me as a Pamaltela obsessive. 

Much of this was discussed back in 2011:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/WorldofGlorantha/conversations/topics/15400

Personally, I don't think that there are any Pamalt-worshippers who aren't descendants of Dorad or from the same generation or earlier as Dorad. Dolorofey is the biggest gap in the Fensi mountains, and with the extermination of the Greenwood of Jolar opened the way for further expansion. But then, that's food for the Fonrit discussion. There are Agimori created by Pamalt, Balumbasta, Varama, Nyanka and Faranar's clay, and then there are Fiwan and Thinobutans similar in appearance but of different origin. And the Thinobutans not that similar...

in 1624, Harrek and Argrath are accompanied by Hunralki, who is described as a "claimant from Jolar". We know that Harrek did give Laskal his special attention, so they could have met there.

The Pithdarans were trapped on the Other Side for about 250 years of history.

They were suspiciously easy to convert to Malkionism. Makes you wonder how those 250 years must have felt.

4 minutes ago, davecake said:

I think it's more or less the case that the War societies use non-Malkioni magic to some extent, just not quite sure how much. They could manipulate animal spirits using sorcerous magic, for example (which would still be against strict caste rules, but otherwise much less heretical). Or they could just be secret spirit societies and they never let the talars or Zzaburi in the meetings so there is no 'proof'. 

These war societies look suspiciously like Hykimi practices, but probably thoroughly non-Hsunchen ones.

There was this "Consume and Integrate Your Enemy" theme suggested for Malkionism, e.g. for the Carmanian lion hunts, and possibly alluded to in Rikard "Tigerhearted" as well (although there are precious few tigers or tiger-walkers west of the Wastes).

Malkioni celebrate the superiority of human will and intellect over the world. Exerting ones will over a rather mindless magical one-trick entity might look acceptable to their self-image, after all the Dronar/Dromal caste has among others the task of exerting mastery over their domestic beasts. As long as they stay away from intelligent entities, no harm done to the Logical order of things, right?

10 minutes ago, metcalph said:

Manipulating animal spirits using spells seems like something that sorcerors would do, not battle-hardened fighters.   

I agree. The Horal caste has a much harder time to justify harnessing spirits to their purpose, On the other hand, they are masters of weapons, and they may treat the spirits available to them as such. Treating these as magical weapons wrestled from ancient foes, or possibly as ancestral weapons inherited from the Dawn Age, might be their mode of bypassing the exclusivity strictures imposed by the Zzabur caste.

 

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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On the one hand, Rokari Zzaburi are chosen from the children of the other castes. On the other, they're taller. So... the conclusion must be that something about belonging to the caste makes you taller? And it can't be merely that they're properly fed, as they're weaker as well, and also supposedly the nobles are properly fed as well?

So what's going on here?  

Edited by Akhôrahil
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Western Culture:

A strange mix of generalizations and specifics about the Rokari, with occasional mentions of the Loskalmi doing things differently. Neither fish nor fowl, really.

Looking at the population numbers for westerners, it appears like the Fronelan Malkioni outnumber the Seshnegi and Ralian Malkioni combined by a small margin, but I guess that these numbers are more or less simple summations of the populations of countries that have at least some Malkioni groups, especially when it comes to Fronela outside of Loskalm. On the other hand, probably less than half the Ralian Malkioni are orthodox Rokari, and in Seshnela there are occasional holdovers of pre-Rokari Hrestolism, not just in the Castle Coast, but also in Pithdaros. Ralian Arkati places appear to have been left out of those numbers, too, as are the East Isles Valkarists who are mentioned later.

 

“The talars are the rulers, administrators, governors, generals, and merchant-princes. They are trained in horsemanship, combat, wrestling, music, and poetry ...”

I have no problem at all with the first sentence in that quote, but the second sentence is wrong about the combat training as far as Malkioni in general are concerned. Talars trained in combat goes against the principles of Malkionism. Talars serving among the military trained for self-defence risk their immortality (at the price of possibly prolonging their mortal lives) among the Brithini, even if they restrict themselves to bashing scepters and throwing crowns (aka maces and throwing stars). Why not add trident “jousting standards”?

Anyway, traditionally the talar caste has no business taking up weapons. In the old Hrestoli school, they were encouraged to become men-of-all, though, combining the horse riding privilege of the Talar caste with the combat skills of the Horal caste, the magic of the Zzabur caste and the horsekeeping skills of the Dronar caste. Qualification as a Man-of-all was socially mandated by any vigorous ruling Talar, and opened the way to the mock-martial world of tournaments and the martial realities of warfare as elite fighters.

 

The Rokari reforms changed that. They did away with the special status of “Man of all”, encroaching on the Zzabur caste privilege of mastering sorcery. In order to win the Talar caste, they granted them all the other privileges of the Men-of-all per default, and did similarly to the Horal caste elite who also provided significant numbers to the Men-of-all in the older Hrestoli ways. They elevated the Horali to a warrior nobility, and even allowed then to join their cavalry, although much less protected, or to wear the heavy protection of the traditional Horal caste as heavy foot soldiers, in turn supported by peasant auxiliary with light or improvised weaponry and armor at best.

The treatment of the old, pre-Rokari Hrestoli ways which forms the basis for all Malkionism outside of the Kingdoms of Tanisor and Loskalm as “the old God Learner ways” is misleading and in many cases wrong.

 

Caste rigidity: Apart from Siglat’s “progression through the Castes” or the old Hrestoli ways of becoming a man-of-all, Malkioni castes are for life, once they have been assigned.

The Rokari school of Malkionism has destroyed most hereditary wizard orders within their reach. I wonder what the hereditary wizard caste families did when Bailifes supported Mardron in abolishing the Zzabur caste as a self-perpetuating caste.

It isn’t entirely clear how the old Brithini castes were assigned, or what the ancient Menena mating rules consisted of.

 

It appears that the Dawn Age Malkioni had a hereditary wizard caste, possibly with a “breeding group” with comparably low magical responsibility and an adept group with reduced breeding (and training) duties but strong magical involvement. If we look an non-orthodox Malkioni, we find hereditary wizard castes both in almost-Brithini style God Forgot and among the Esvulari, and among the Valkarists. I would bet that this applies to the Castle Coast as well, and that something like this is tacitly practiced in southern Tanisor, Nolos, Pasos, and particularly Pithdaros.

Rokari wizards appoint suitable candidates from other castes. I have the suspicion that many southerners obeyed the words of Rokari laws by assigning their former non-specialized breeder cast members into a cosy non-wizard subcaste and choose their successors practically exclusively from this breeding pool, whereas the orthodox and zealous Rokari of Rindland and northern Tanisor practice the only other form of “meritocracy” besides the Loskalmi system and the men-of-all when testing prospective Zzabur caste members for ability regardless of their paternal castes. I wonder whether they can afford to override Rokari Talar caste offspring for a wizard career – possibly only with second, third or even later sons.

It isn’t quite clear whether such Rokari Zzabur caste appointees retain their house names and allegiances. If they do, the Talar houses would have a vested interest to push at least a few of their boys into a wizard career in order to have inside influence in the matters of Zzabur caste decisions and information.

On the matter of stature - I suppose that there may be some magic involved, also in growing the appropriate beard.

 

The Dronar caste in Rokari society appears to be split into enfranchised urban citizens amassing wealth through respected trades who take an active role in decision making, and impoverished serf peasants, bereft of any influence or voice towards the other castes. If you want to be cynical, the Loskalmi Dronar caste is similar, with some Dronar caste folk actively (and predominantly) training for advancement while other Dronar caste folk jjust do their drudge work without any perspective to rise in the ranks of New Hrestoli Idealism.

The old way instituted by Malkion had descision-making as both privilege and burden of the Talar caste, and the Talar caste only.

However, reading Revealed Mythologies, this was led ad absurdum by the conduct of Zzabur. The Malkioni of Danmalastan and the Brithini of Brithos appear to have had a caste of Talar bureaucrats administrating the whims of the Sorcerer Supreme, rather than a caste of Talar rulers who directed the wizards to their tasks, specifying the magics to be employed. (Which is, of course, an organizational nightmare closerly resembling modern day as well as historial forms of government.) The Sorcerer Supreme appears to have had unlimited budget and judgement. Possibly advising his Talar appointee exactly when to authorize exactly what activity. (Yes, Minister…)

 

Reading apocryphal texts on Greg’s early ideas on Malkionism, it isn’t exactly clear when Froalar and his family and followers left Brithos. Prince Hrestol has referred to Talar as his grandfather, suggesting that he and his sister had a long “youth” as Brithini before emigrating into the mortal world. If so, Dawn Age pure-blood Malkioni may have had life expectancies of centuries, barring attrition through warfare (a frequent occurrence) or diseases and hunger. It is therefore hard to say when and how the early Malkioni settlers before the Dawn may have changed their caste and breeding behavior vs. the Brithini practices like in Arolanit or on Brithos proper.

Froalar’s marriage to Seshna Likita and the subsequent dynasty of Serpent Kings appears to have initiated a wave of adoptions and conversions of previously non-Malkioni into fully assimilated Seshnegi caste members, whether of Pendali lion man stock, Likiti earth folk stock, or even theists frum further away. There also appear to have been more magical marriages to goddesses of the land or the forests (nymphs or dryads) in order to establish sovereignty.

This may have been mitigated by the earlier Kachisti having been absorbed by the beast- or deity-descended humans of the Genertelan west either fleeing from the Vadeli uprising, or released from Vadeli servitude when e..g the Bull folk of Pelanda destroyed Yargan.

 

Malkioni skin coloration: while several of the old texts describe the Brithini in the hues of the rainbow (hence the castes’ color correlations), other texts especially dealing with Second Age migrations from Brithos to Seshnela and Jrustela, or the encounters of Aftal the Waertagi with people supposedly of wester descent, describe these folk as pale-skinned.

 

Quote

In lands where caste restrictions are enforced, contestants are segregated by caste and must voluntarily participate.

Must voluntarily participate - is this scathing sarcasm, or just unlucky phrasing?

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

the second sentence is wrong about the combat training as far as Malkioni in general are concerned

I read all this stuff as how an observant outsider in 1625 Seshnela (Tanisor) would describe local cultural norms -- the facts on the ground -- while including local explanations and accounts of alternative Western practices where they support or at least fill voids in that narrative. Obviously the chapter reflects the "all you malestini must listen" Brithinocentric puritanical party line coming down from Leplain because that's what the wizards say, but the narrator is good to let facts that don't fit the dogma remain unchallenged. Modern Seshegi talars engage in war all the time. At best, the historical "use of weapons" in the shape of regalia defies strict caste boundaries, and then you've got the cavalry (to satisfy some ghost of the old "knights on horseback" image?). 

These facts are gold because they trace some of the ways their society has deviated from the Brithini ideal Since Time and may yet do so again. Maybe at some point the Tanisorians ran out of "legitimate" talars and these are really the heirs of the old horal caste (*) doing the best they can. They aren't censured for fighting because the wizards know the truth, but as the local gentry they're also happy to make someone else do the fighting first, which is where the people with hykimite lineage get pressed into service. Or something like that. 

Anyhow, the point is that the rokarites are doing it wrong and I'm happy the text supports this reading.

(*) not "horalites" in this context -- these people were remarkably good with horses before they were absorbed into Western society and retain elements of that heritage, not that of the original Children of Horal from the sagas -- but I'm probably already in trouble for reading sideways.

Edited by scott-martin
for riding is required a horse
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