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Guide to Glorantha Group Read Week 4 - Aldryami


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12 hours ago, JanPospisil said:

I think the objections are not necessarily that it's wrong to show boobs, rather that it makes the elves too human. (while the Aldryami are established as very un-human)

To me it seems like there's good history of Aldryami being very dangerous to humans in this aspect, like that scene in KoDP where the men of our clan sneak into the woods to have fun with a dryad, only to sprout vines and die several days later.

It's like an alien organism adapting to fit into an environment inhabited by humans, while not actually trying to have pleasurable mating encounters with these creatures. It's a lure, or a mask.

Yes, that was very much my objection.

And I do like your thought on this very 'dangerous' and alien aspect.  I get this image of some remote Esrolian village on the edge of the Arstola Forest populated by 'Stepford Wives'-type women.  Except they are Aldryami, and they lure men there for some obscure purpose such as becoming fertilizer for some rare grove.

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Peter hits precisely on my biggest problem with the way the Aldryami are written up - the botany is bad! Many of the trees found in forests that are described as brown are actually flowering broadleafs, for example. 

It is also a very odd thing - to me it comes across as a very northern hemisphere attitude - to assume that the only forests that aren't coniferous or deciduous are jungles. The southern hemisphere in particular is FULL of temperate broadleaf forests that aren't deciduous or jungle. 

The idea that large ferns only live in separate eco-system, not within forests, is also weird to my personal experience. Large tree ferns are part of many forests I've visited.

Reconciling this is complicated. My working assumptions at this point are:

- ideas about Embyli are confused human ideas. Actually, brown or brown/green forests in particular contain minority populations that are technically Embyli, associated with flowering broadleaf trees native to those forests, but the elves don't draw attention to it that way. And our ideas about Embyli being usually small are likewise confused, based on assuming that Embyli implies jungle plants. Generally, there are a bunch of minority populations within forests that the 'view from 30,000 feet' tends to miss. Sometimes this will also include elves that are technically Slorifings too. 

- Aldryami do not think of their cultural differences in terms of dominant elf type. They think of them in terms of ecology type. The idea that the range of trees (and thus elves) in a region will be mixed is perfectly normal to them. Two forests that are described as 'mixed green/brown' might be considered totally different to an elf. 

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"heterodoxy and apostasy are nearly unknown" - quite a difference to previously, when Rootless and Renegade elves were rare, but definitely known?

I'm a little disappointed that the religion ignores the 'Aldryami names' for deities and goes the straight God Learner name route, but it makes sense for the Guide. We get only slight hints as to the different approaches to most of the deities in Aldryami vs human society. 

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Aldryami Shamans Grove - I don't think we can take this at face value, rather Brin Brownthumbs might be an unreliable witness. 4 dryads and 3 water nymphs seems a lot of nymphs for  6square miles! And we don't know which of the animals etc are just coincidentally hanging around and have nothtypes ing much to do with the shaman. The range of spirits of types that aren't particularly Aldryami in nature, such as wraiths and ghosts, or plain earth spirits, is interesting. It implies that shamans of Aldrya do not limit themselves to spirits of that tradition by any means. 

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24 minutes ago, davecake said:

Aldryami Shamans Grove - I don't think we can take this at face value, rather Brin Brownthumbs might be an unreliable witness. 4 dryads and 3 water nymphs seems a lot of nymphs for  6square miles! And we don't know which of the animals etc are just coincidentally hanging around and have nothtypes ing much to do with the shaman. The range of spirits of types that aren't particularly Aldryami in nature, such as wraiths and ghosts, or plain earth spirits, is interesting. It implies that shamans of Aldrya do not limit themselves to spirits of that tradition by any means. 

I suppose the implication is that the shaman bound most of these dryads, maybe to his service, maybe to evacuate them from dryad groves overrun by hostiles.

The other spirits most likely were hostile ones overcome by the shaman, retained to perform a service (in defence of the shaman's grove or dependents) before being released.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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3 hours ago, davecake said:

The history of the elves is quite Genertelan focussed, and it is interesting the Genert is treated as an obvious ally of the Aldryami whose death is a disaster etc - but Pamalt, who cheerily burns elves forests, is not mentioned. 

Perhaps fire is an important part of forest ecology, like the controlled burning of sequoia woods to kill ants and promote seed scatter

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8 hours ago, davecake said:

I'm a little disappointed that the religion ignores the 'Aldryami names' for deities and goes the straight God Learner name route, but it makes sense for the Guide. We get only slight hints as to the different approaches to most of the deities in Aldryami vs human society. 

Surely that is because Aldryami names are scents and pollen on the wind, or the rustles of leaves in a breeze. Who knows what Aldryami _really_ call their gods.

Edited by Dogboy
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6 hours ago, Psullie said:

Perhaps fire is an important part of forest ecology, like the controlled burning of sequoia woods to kill ants and promote seed scatter

Now we know where the name Flamal comes from ;)
Seriously though, this is going to be very important to _some_ communities of Aldryami.

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18 minutes ago, Dogboy said:

Surely that is because Aldryami names are scents and pollen on the wind, or the rustles of leaves in a breeze. Who knows what Aldryami _really_ call their gods.

I agree fully. And for sanity's sake, using the God Learner names helps people glimpse the internal unity of Gloranthan mythology. 

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17 hours ago, Psullie said:

Perhaps fire is an important part of forest ecology, like the controlled burning of sequoia woods to kill ants and promote seed scatter

Perhaps the rumoured Fire elves are connected to eucalyptus forests? Eucalypts are very flammable, filled with eucalyptus oil, fast growing and regenerate quickly after fire, in part due to fire triggered seed release (quite common in Australian plants generally), so fire is a natural part of the forest life cycle.

Which would mean terrifying Australian style bushfires. 

Mythic inspirations abound - three that spring to mind immediately are that it might be an Aldryami mythic response to Pamaltelan mass deforestation by fire, that in combining both a response to fire and the cycle of regeneration theme it would make a fascinating mythic response to the Moonburn, and you could make a pretty interesting plant based version of the Phoenix myth. 

I'm always up for slipping some Australian detail in somewhere, obviously. 

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1 hour ago, davecake said:

Perhaps the rumoured Fire elves are connected to eucalyptus forests? Eucalypts are very flammable, filled with eucalyptus oil, fast growing and regenerate quickly after fire, in part due to fire triggered seed release (quite common in Australian plants generally), so fire is a natural part of the forest life cycle.

There is the Burning Forest in Umathela (Vormundar, Guide 641) but the trees there are Ponderesa Pines.  Undoubtedly related is Enchasal Fireseed of the Red Needle Elves (Guide p628)

 

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1 minute ago, metcalph said:

There is the Burning Forest in Umathela (Vormundar, Guide 641) but the trees there are Ponderesa Pines.  Undoubtedly related is Enchasal Fireseed of the Red Needle Elves (Guide p628)

 

Just looked it up on Wiki.  Ponderesa Pines were used in a nuclear test to see what the bomb would do to a forest.  Undoubtedly related to the spell that the God Learners used to burn down Vralos in 654 ST (Guide p502 and p622)

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I have read those bushfire comments before, but I don't think that's strange enough.

Those fire elves of southern Pamaltela and their plants are thriving in the liquid heat spilled (or maybe rather annually spilling) out of the sky in the mid of winter. Unlke those eucalyptus trees that tolerate raging fires to return to a long, fire-less recuperation (a trait they share with the Redwood of e.g. eastern Dagori Inkarth) they inhabit a place where fire rarely ever stops.

At a guess, they might be related to Red Elves rather than True Elves, if you look at the Storm Age maps.

The Enmal Mountains of southernmost Pamaltela used to be lands of eternal fire even before the Skyspill. The Bomonoi are deities or demigods with bodies of fire, the lesser brothers and nephews of Balumbasta. (It always says "men" of fire, which I am inclined to take as a males only pre-society similar to the Wendarian Men of the Log.)

Given the phallic nature of the entire Balumbasta/Lodril concept, I would expect the Bomonoi to have an all-female counter culture of nymphs.

Speaking of nymphs, I notice an absence of these Ulerian/Tilntae creatures from the realms of fire and storm. The sole nymph presence in either are the mountain nymphs, who appear to be attracted by their phallic featured mountain shapes to offer interaction with both storm and mountain fire.

 

Tilnta is the nymph goddess in western Celestial Court myths, the physical aspect of the essence of womanhood, while Uleria is revered for her purity. Tilntae are birthers - they birth things that live and grow, which included stuff like Rock in the Creation Age and well into the early Golden Age, and they give birth both with and without concourse with males.

These nymphs surround themselves with living and growing things, celebrating life in all its facets. High up on the Genertelan mountains and the Fensi mountains of Pamaltela, they celebrate the life of Cold, in the realm of Inora, daughter of Kero Fin (greatest of all mountain nymphs, daughter of Larnste) and presumably Himile, and the life of the various half-storm cloud people.

On the Enmal mountains and possibly on highly active volcanoes, these mountain nymphs might have created an ecology of fire beings, including a plant life suited to a fiery environment. The Enmal mountains (and possibly the original Nargan Sea) were a flame-shrouded environment, and the resident mountain nymphs may have given birth to a plant life suited to that environment.

So, assuming that there were nymphs on the Enmal Mountains surrounding themselves with living things thriving in those conditions, imagine what happened when the Skyspill created a fertile, uninhabited environment for them to expand into. Their ecology would have exploded, and second generation nymphs may very well have chosen to tie themselves to the greatest of the plants as their residence feature. (Nymphs are entities of locus, and in a otherwise featureless plain the place-defining feature is the longest-living big plant.) These fire plant dryads could have given birth to a male defender class analogous to the Red Elf goblins, with flame-shrouded bodies.

 

Sexy elf wimmin?

Apart from Green and Brown (and possibly Blue, who knows) Elves, there are no female elves. All other elves are male, and obligately mate with dryads. Sexual encounters of non-elves with the forest are quite likely the work of dryads, all of whom are considered aldryami, or of malignantly human-baiting elves resembling human females. Given the strange effects suffered by Neb Nmochek, I wonder whether the "female" he mated with was actually a male with deceptive features resembling primary and secondary human sexual features, inseminating the human trader rather than being inseminated in the act. Looking at the sexual organs of flowers, the female organ resembles a phallus, whereas the pollen hides in cavities. Conifers bear their fruit in somewhat phallic organs, too. Is it possible that humans get the sexes of the green and brown elves exactly wrong? It is not like yellow or red elves have been checked for their sexual organs, and there are pollen stems with phallic associations, too.

 

 

 

 

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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17 minutes ago, Joerg said:

I have read those bushfire comments before, but I don't think that's strange enough.

To make eucalypts weirder, you can always add the deep strangeness of Australian childrens classic Snugglepot and Cuddlepie the gum nut babies. Kind of flightless nudist pixies who battle against the Big Bad Banksia Men. 

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

17 minutes ago, Joerg said:

 

Those fire elves of southern Pamaltela and their plants are thriving in the liquid heat spilled (or maybe rather annually spilling) out of the sky in the mid of winter. Unlke those eucalyptus trees that tolerate raging fires to return to a long, fire-less recuperation (a trait they share with the Redwood of e.g. eastern Dagori Inkarth) they inhabit a place where fire rarely ever stops.

At a guess, they might be related to Red Elves rather than True Elves, if you look at the Storm Age maps.

Either the Fire elves are literally impossible creatures of myth, in which case we can make up literal trees made of flame or similar, or they should be based on some recognisable earth plant, in which case Eucalypts are probably the best we are going to get. 

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Not to derail this fascinating discussion too much, but I'd like to respectfully disagree with the Giger characterization.  To me, that was much more insectoid than vegetable. (For example, his art of the alien ship's control room appears more to me as some form of hive, constructed but weirdly organic.)  Granted, elves are alien, but not in the Alien sense.

My personal view of them was very much influenced by those little sketches of Luise's.  It bespoke to me the two watchwords I've used to portray Gloranthan elves since then:  puissance and mystery (but in a different sense than dragonewts would fit into those categories).  When I visualize a scene involving elves, I get a sense of an almost Nordic, or Germanic, otherworldly choir singing in soft, dirge-like tones in the background.  (If I were a musician, I could give you an accurate representation of it; I can hear it, but am not particularly talented at communicating it.  Maybe I can find something that will approximate it.)  This isn't to imply that elven society is in any way Nordic, just a bit of atmospheric flavor that implies power and gravity for me.

It took some time for me to see the vegetable side, as well.  I originally, and for a long time, had made an assumption that they were mammalian in nature.  This was rooted (pun unintended) in her sketches, as they tend to appear strongly humanoid.  Elves were also described as children of Aldrya and Man, which imparted another 'human' (flesh) component.  It wasn't really until I read some of the Digest entries that the vegetable side came through more strongly for me.

Anyway, take this for what you will, or won't, or tell me I'm crazy. :D

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6 hours ago, davecake said:

To make eucalypts weirder, you can always add the deep strangeness of Australian childrens classic Snugglepot and Cuddlepie the gum nut babies. Kind of flightless nudist pixies who battle against the Big Bad Banksia Men. 

 

The things we learn in the pursuit of Gloranthan lore... Sanity check barely made.

 

6 hours ago, davecake said:

Either the Fire elves are literally impossible creatures of myth, in which case we can make up literal trees made of flame or similar, or they should be based on some recognisable earth plant, in which case Eucalypts are probably the best we are going to get. 

The entire reality of both the flame-shrouded Enmal mountains and the Skyspill area of the southern Nargan is similar to what D&D would call the elemental plane of fire. It is going to be hot, but similar gear as those used by the Jrusteli explorers on the firebergs should make short visits feasible.

The ecology there simply doesn't care that the atmosphere consists of flame rather than air. This is eternal flame, possibly going on without fuel, or neglectible use of fuel from the mountains and the ashes covering the desert.

This woud be an ecology without water, too, at least as much as the Enmal Mountains are concerned. The southern Skyspill might well have Tanian effects with burning water.

Plants must still collect material sustenance in addition to light in order to grow. A flame's plasma can substitute for air, but we still need a replacement for the water. I am inclined to use wind/flame-born ashes for this, and an internal sstem of high density plasma aka liquid fire. The same stuff that dragons and other fire-breathers spew out.

And that's my other reason for fern- or even moss-like plants - tthe ability to capture soil nutrients from dust, meaning lots of frills and fronds. I did consider lichen as an alternative, but that doesn't make for much of an ecology.

Further up the food chain, the browsers intake both the concentrated flame (in lieu of .water) and the ""vegetable matter" built up from nutrients from the ashes and the flame atmosphere. Their (life) energy input really might be just that liquefied flame. These critters would most likely be some form of firebird. Given Pamaltela's pre-occupation with archaic biology of our earth, I would suggest some feathered intermediate between dinosaur and bird species, with four-limbed wings etc, all of course sharing the liquid-fire based metabolism and the requirement to breathe (in) flame, and to be surrounded by it..

 

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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Regardless of the question of what the Fire Elves are like, I do not think the 'Elemental plane of Fire' characterisation of Southern Pamaltela is correct at all. I know there are a couple of illustrations that imply that, but I think that's mostly a God Learnerism - actually, the Nargan is the hottest part of the continent, beyond that (at least in the central part of the continent) is the Enmal Mountains (including Um) that are actually less fiery due to altitude (though probably volcanic). But no one who'd been there ever talked to the God Learners about it. And the Southern Nathan is crazily hot and inhospitable, for sure. 

In short, I lean towards the mythic map on page 697 being more accurate than the less detailed one on page 159. 

The Nargan is more burnt than burning. It's hot ash inhabited by some fire beings,  not a thriving magic fire ecology.

The Elemental plane of Fire description works for Firebergs, though. 

Edited by davecake
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On 20/07/2017 at 9:12 AM, Mankcam said:

This is totally Ridley Scott and Giger now, heh heh

I'd say it is far more like Invasion of the Body Snatchers: "elves" are pod-people, they look human, they ape human emotions (but there is no light behind their eyes) and profess to worship human gods, but they they have their own plans, that move at near glacial speeds, to reclaim the land and limit the human "blight".

This is not your friend
tale_of_the_wooden_sword.jpg.7c9b2c33ea48b8f461488984ad1b3c33.jpg

It only wants your artifacts.

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37 minutes ago, davecake said:

Regardless of the question of what the Fire Elves are like, I do not think the 'Elental plane of Fire' characterisation of Southern Pamaltela is correct at all. I know there are a couple of illustrations that imply that, but I think that's mostly a God Learnerism - actually, the Nargan is the hottest part of the continent, beyond that (at least in the central part of the continent) is the Enmal Mountains (including Um) that are actually less fiery due to altitude (though probably volcanic). But no one who'd been there ever talked to the God Learners about it. And the Southern Nathan is crazily hot and inhospitable, for sure. 

Most of the Nargan is just unbearably hot desert, even for Men-and-a-Half Agimori, but the fire realm of the Bomonoi is ancient - they are also known as Promalti, a vowel-shifted variation of Primolt, the by-name of Aether. I guess it is Greg's take on Muspelheim and similar concepts from other mythologies.

What speaks against an annually refilled spill of celestial fire taking up some territory in the heart of the Nargan? The zone of fire would expand in winter, and retreat over the rest of the year, only to expand with the repeat of the spill. We have Valind's Winter Palace with its ice demons in the heart of his Glacier, so why not have the opposite way down south, outside of the maps in the Guide? Those cut off significantly north of the edge of the land mass of Pamaltela or any burning swamps there. The Sendereven box (p.500) tells us about mast-high flames of the Burning Sea for that portion of Sramak's River, so at least the coast is going to have some eternal flame there.

 

The White Elves have been toted about as fire beings, or at least beings of light, too.

37 minutes ago, davecake said:

In short, I lean towards the mythic map on page 697 being more accurate than the less detailed one on page 159. 

The map on p.10 is vastly inaccurate, with forest directly giving way to fire (but then its purpose isn't to give a detailed map of the surface world). The one on p.159 a lot less so - the fiery sea is consistent with the mention on p.500, and the flames start south of the hex maps in the Guide. If you look at the piece of Slon which can be fittet between Umathela and Jrustela (which is what the Mostali plan for that region is about - repairing that rift in the earth cube), or looking into the slightly shaded border of the cube in the southern end of the Swermela Sea extension, there is only a rather narrow stretch of the southern edge shown on fire. The Nargan Desert is clearly further north.

The map on 697 has its flaws in Pamaltela, e.g. the extent of Enkloso in Sulayz or on the coast of the Worm Sea. The unforested (or at least not elf-claimed) lands of Fozeranto are hard to concile with the description of Dinal as unperturbed jungle since before the Gods War, unless they were sunk before the Dawn, and the Greenwood of Jolar is missing, too. (This is bringing this surprisingly back on topic...)

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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There's a lot of referencing parts of the Guide that we haven't reached yet. Please start a new thread to accommodate this. We are reading the cultural section at the moment.

Edited by David Scott

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Search the Glorantha Resource Site: https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com. Search the Glorantha mailing list archives: https://glorantha.steff.in/digests/

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