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Guide to Glorantha Group Read Week 4 - Dragons


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p78 - I did have the feeling that the True Dragons are incarnations of the Elder Dragons and the Cosmic Dragon.  It requires a fair amount of work (namely the Sun Dragon)

p79 - I wonder what Garstal Shavetop's superiors think about him filing bogus reports.

p79 - this is a puzzler.

Quote

The God Learners speculated that the
profusion of dinosaurs in Pamaltela, where
there are no dragonewts, is due to the Gods
War when the dragonewts were exterminated,
leaving behind only their distant kin.

It's a reasonable theory but we don't have any records of dragonewt populations being wiped out in Pamaltelan myth!  The nearest I can think of would be Bolongo slaying Earthmaker (assuming him to be a dragon)

 

 

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4 hours ago, metcalph said:

p79 - this is a puzzler.

[God Learner speculation]

It's a reasonable theory but we don't have any records of dragonewt populations being wiped out in Pamaltelan myth!  The nearest I can think of would be Bolongo slaying Earthmaker (assuming him to be a dragon)

Why, this is a God Learner speculation, not a fact. What do the God Learners know about the dragonewts? Even if older texts credit them for being involved in Vistikos establishing contact with the newts, that happened roughly 70 years before the God Learners got together in Jrustela to create the Abiding Book, and long before they began exploring the Hero Planes. Lhankor Mhy scholars may very well have been involved, and may have left behind observations. Quite likely no direct dialogues translated from Auld Wyrmish, though.

 

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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It is interesting Dragons are part of Elder Races as they could've been part of the World Structure or Beyond the Middle World. Joking aside, the magnitude of Dragons has always intrigued me and the whole True Dragon - Dream Dragon (and apparently also Mythic Dragon, which was new to me) thing is really cool. The picture of the Dragon laying next to the village was something I liked to show to my friends (it was in the back of Player book in AH RuneQuest set if I remember correctly) when introducing Glorantha: "See, in Glorantha the dragons are this big and their dreams are something you would encounter in an adventure."

Somehow I have always disliked the idea of Dinosaurs in Glorantha. It is mixing too much Earth's history in to the setting and I can't but think the Dino Riders. On top of that do Gloranthan dinosaurs now also have feathers as is current scientific consensus about Earth dinosaurs? Probably not because they are developed from Dragonewts (definitely no feathers).

Visit to the Dragonewt city was a nice read. Maybe it shoud've been in the Dragonewt chapter.

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7 minutes ago, jrutila said:

On top of that do Gloranthan dinosaurs now also have feathers as is current scientific consensus about Earth dinosaurs? Probably not because they are developed from Dragonewts (definitely no feathers).

 

Some Dragonewts have various frills and protruding decorative bits that could've easily turned into feathers. And there's always magic if that was too evolution-y. In my mind there were tribes of intelligent feathered dinosaurs using tools and wearing furs during the Storm Age. 

Like this: Simon Roy's Dinosauroids

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

Why, this is a God Learner speculation, not a fact. What do the God Learners know about the dragonewts?

They have contact with Dragonewts at Ryzel and Ormsland (and perhaps briefly Fanzai).  They may be able to trace the ancestry of dinosaurs in various places (ie Trachodon Marsh).  It becomes simply to conclude that the Dinosaurs of Pamaltela are descended from Dragonewts.

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5 hours ago, jrutila said:

Somehow I have always disliked the idea of Dinosaurs in Glorantha. It is mixing too much Earth's history in to the setting and I can't but think the Dino Riders. On top of that do Gloranthan dinosaurs now also have feathers as is current scientific consensus about Earth dinosaurs? Probably not because they are developed from Dragonewts (definitely no feathers).

Try calling them earthshakers or gazzam and see if that snaps better into place. As long as they're massive slow survivals from a primeval age, they can have any kind of blood, hips and plumage your imagination can concoct.

I like having them lumbering around the fringes because they prepare the player for how fragile the marvels of Glorantha really are. On our world there are no reptile giants. They died out long before we were born and all we get are the bones. But here on the lozenge we can still hope to see one, even on the fringes of the setting, in special contexts and sometimes with the sense that they're not going to survive the Hero Wars. It's bittersweet to get to see a member of a failing species cross the road. On the one hand, you got the experience. On the other, the sadness.

Also the notion of the way the dragonewts deal with their overgrown, spiritually perverse and otherwise "damaged" cousins can be hilarious or heartbreaking depending on your dramatic needs. See how it feels if there are simply big dumb irritable reptile mutants hanging around the fringes of a dragonewt community. Nobody ever needs to use the word "triceratops."

EDIT plus this is a people cursed by Nysalor also, even though the tailed priests roll their eyes and click at the story

Edited by scott-martin
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56 minutes ago, Jeff said:

I love dinosaurs and there are plenty of them in Glorantha. Just wait until you see the pictures of the painted triceratops in the RQ Bestiary or the pack of Deinonychus attacking a Praxian rhino.

As @Jeff is just teasing, here's how far back dinosaurs go into Glorantha... Greg has always had a soft spot for dinosaurs, here's a preproduction piece from the original White Bear / Red Moon (complete with tipex):

IMG_0546.PNG.fc733c7b45e544a297ee92a850ab533b.PNG

Some of you may also be aware that not only is Greg First Pope of the Church of Elvis, but also the founder of Sauriantology.

 

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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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Not all earth shakers need to have dragon ancestry. I am firmly convinced that the Dara Happans of Murharzarm's Empire herded feathered gazzam, making them beasts of the sky despite lumbering down on earth.

Maran Gor had numerous earth shaker offspring - IMO some of them scaled like reptiles, some feathered like (fledgeling) birds, some furred.

I am pretty certain that there are plenty of dinosaurs with no particularly draconic ancestry other than the usual Hsunchen horned serpent myth, particularly those fiwan in Slon. If anything, the saurians in south-eastern Pamaltela may be related to the Slarge and the (extinct) Lascerdans, humanoid reptile folk called Pelmre made by Pamalt, Balumbasta and Cronisper after the Jelmre and before the Agimori.

6 hours ago, metcalph said:

They have contact with Dragonewts at Ryzel and Ormsland (and perhaps briefly Fanzai).  They may be able to trace the ancestry of dinosaurs in various places (ie Trachodon Marsh).  It becomes simply to conclude that the Dinosaurs of Pamaltela are descended from Dragonewts.

Aren't the colonies of Ryzel and Ormsland recent (Second Age) plants against the God Learners?

A few more comments from my reading through:
Garstal Shavetop’s report on the Dragon of Jarn is dated to 1622, but that’s only the date when this document was added to the library. He may very well have conducted his research between 1618 and 1621 and have been caught up in events like the Firebull rebellion, the dissolution of the Kultain or the Siege of Whitewall that might have prevented an earlier return to that city.
It is quite interesting that Garstal took a magisaur guide – this indicates that his Auld Wyrmish isn’t good enough to negotiate for the service of a dragonewt of any kind.

Magisaurs – they too come in different classes, in their case size classes. I wonder whether the largest (and least sapient) are the Trachodon magical dinosaurs from the Dragon Pass boardgame.

Dinosaur types. I missed the Pteranodons here – those dinosaurs achieving a state somewhat nearer dragonhood after cocooning in and meditation. Not quite a redemption, but apparently preferable to plodding along on the ground.

That visit to the Dragonewt City apears to be slightly misplaced in this chapter.


If all the dinosaurs are draconic creatures I miss more suggestions for ties between draconic or reptile Hsunchen and dragonkind.

The Waertagi Sea Dragon ships are a strangeness, too, as are sea serpents (the aquatic equivalent of wyrms?). How draconic are these, in the sense of Ouroboros/Dragonkill etc.?

If the Sea Dragons are draconic, do they linger in a state between utuma (through their Waertagi conquerers) and death?

 

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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35 minutes ago, Joerg said:

feathered gazzam

Who were Vrimak and Hippoi really?

One general personal note on this chapter that your comments touch on: in general I'm actually a little let down by the scarcity of third age dragon influence outside the unique environment of the Pass itself. Granted part of this is the ruthless success of the dragonslayer cults of Peloria and Saird, but I'd love to hear more about survivals in the far west (possibly behind Serpent Beast or vanilla hykimite cultures) and of course the east as well as what we see in Pamaltela and Slon. In theory a dream dragon can manifest anywhere, which helps. More is welcome. 

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3 hours ago, Joerg said:

Aren't the colonies of Ryzel and Ormsland recent (Second Age) plants against the God Learners?

No.  Ormsland was founded in the Dawn Age unde the auspices of the World Council (Guide p392).  It is probably the only such Dragonewt colony to survive.

Ryzel was founded from Palangio's Dragonewts (History of the Heortling Peoples p97)

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12 hours ago, Joerg said:

Garstal Shavetop’s report on the Dragon of Jarn is dated to 1622, but that’s only the date when this document was added to the library. He may very well have conducted his research between 1618 and 1621 and have been caught up in events like the Firebull rebellion, the dissolution of the Kultain or the Siege of Whitewall that might have prevented an earlier return to that city.

Garstal happens to be mentioned in the Sartar Companion p25 as of 1618 which is also when the New Lunar Temple is up and running (the Foundation Stone was laid in 1612 SC p80).  It would be difficult to miss the burned patches of trees and dried out stream beds, the strong smell of smoke and a huge pile of gravel.  The Dragon itself is largely than the Red Dragon and is regularly blowing smoke out of its nostrils.  Nah, I think Garstal's lying.

 

12 hours ago, Joerg said:

It is quite interesting that Garstal took a magisaur guide – this indicates that his Auld Wyrmish isn’t good enough to negotiate for the service of a dragonewt of any kind.

Garstal is fluent in Auld Wyrmish and likely exceeds Minaryth in Draconic Lore (Sartar Companion p25).  He is also in contact with the Servant of the Almighty Dragons.

 

12 hours ago, Joerg said:

The Waertagi Sea Dragon ships are a strangeness, too, as are sea serpents (the aquatic equivalent of wyrms?). How draconic are these, in the sense of Ouroboros/Dragonkill etc.?

Guide p465 says the Dragonship was constructed from a True Dragon.

 

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What I found least believable about Garstal's report were the immense amounts of cattle he claims to have fed to the beast - an entire clan's worth of wealth. Who could have sponsored that, in times of Lunar occupation? Gringle?

Maybe what Garstal describes was a huge dream dragon instead. Possibly strengthened by the Lunar construction magics?

 

Guide p465 says the Dragonship was constructed from a True Dragon.

And the Waertagi had fleets of them. At least several dozens of dragon city ships. How comes the dragons didn't retaliate at some point? Even if they had a premonition that a large number of these rebuilt dragons would be burnt to cinders at the Battle of Tanian's Victory, there still are a several of these things around.

I would guess that the Waertagi evisceration/taming magic is restricted to sea dragons, and that Waertag's sea magics (whether sorcerous or theist) were the key to subduing these creatures. I wonder whether those dragons only had animal cunning rather than a full intellect (or whether that was the first thing Waertag tapped away)

Dragon motivation isn't always straightforward, and they seem to have a relaxed relationship to Time. They stood by as the draconic population of Peloria got wiped out, and only mobilized when the Dragon's Eye was under threat. Was the Dragonkill an ambush, or was it protection of their brood finally coming forth? Did all those dragons originate in Dragon's Eye?

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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42 minutes ago, Joerg said:

And the Waertagi had fleets of them. At least several dozens of dragon city ships

50 at the Dawn according to the Guide p465

42 minutes ago, Joerg said:

. How comes the dragons didn't retaliate at some point?

Perhaps the dragons want to be killed as it releases them from a mundane existence?  

 

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9 minutes ago, metcalph said:

50 at the Dawn according to the Guide p465

Three dozens then. So what's their strength after Tanian's Victory, their retaliation against Jrustela, loss of the anchored ones as per Aftal, and returning from their sojourn through hell?

 

55 minutes ago, Joerg said:

How comes the dragons didn't retaliate at some point?

Quote

Perhaps the dragons want to be killed as it releases them from a mundane existence?  

Except it doesn't - the ship is alive, and very much present in mundane existence. Even profane existence.

Compare the hubbub when a dragonewt skin is made into magical armor. How would the living shell being made into a profane thing be a release from attachments?

I did consider the encounter with Waertag as a form of delayed Utuma, but why allow this delay?

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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5 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Except it doesn't - the [Waertagi city] ship is alive, and very much present in mundane existence. Even profane existence.

Um, the ships are the living bodies of true dragons, not the true dragons themselves.  In the description of the making of the Waveshimmer, it's clear that the Dragon was killed.  One would not say that Frankenstein's monster is the same as the people whose bodies were used to make it.    So it is with the City Ships.  They animated the corpses but it is not a dragon merely the body of one.

 

5 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Compare the hubbub when a dragonewt skin is made into magical armor. How would the living shell being made into a profane thing be a release from attachments?

The Dragonewt goes after people because the presence of armour inhibits future spiritual development.  But the True Dragon having attained full development has no worries about what happens to its body after death (and the Cosmic Dragon was quite free for lesser developed things to spawn from its corpse).

5 minutes ago, Joerg said:

I did consider the encounter with Waertag as a form of delayed Utuma, but why allow this delay?

Nothing delayed about it.  It ceases being a True Dragon at the moment of Death.  All Dragons must welcome such a prospect (which is why they did little to save the world from chaos).  

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9 minutes ago, metcalph said:

Um, the ships are the living bodies of true dragons, not the true dragons themselves.

Not the undead corpses, but living bodies.

9 minutes ago, metcalph said:

In the description of the making of the Waveshimmer, it's clear that the Dragon was killed.  

And in the making of Harrek's cloak, the White Bear God was killed. Cloak and bear still are united, and alive for sufficient amounts of living that I would grant a city-ship, too.

I would expect the life in that ship to be leached from the original entity, rather than a different life bestowed to the golem dragon.

I think it matters greatly whether the "living ship" is using the original dragon's life or whether it is just a Jolanti or Machine God analog. Apart from the Jolanti receiving spirits from the alryami, I wouldn't call them alive, but animated.

 

The Waertagi text makes it clear that there was some major re-structuring surgery going on with the dragon body, presumably in order to get habitable caverns and terraces, while keeping the entire structure alive, and capable of healing.

One way this could have been done would be with one of the spirit trap items from the Vadel story produced by the Kadeniti - sever the spirit of the dragon and force it into the trap, then release enough of it back into the body to return it to life. Such a state of slavery would prevent successful utuma, though.

 

It would be interesting to know how the Waertagi feed their ships.

9 minutes ago, metcalph said:

One would not say that Frankenstein's monster is the same as the people whose bodies were used to make it.    So it is with the City Ships.  They animated the corpses but it is not a dragon merely the body of one.

I still doubt that such a death would be a valid utuma.

 

But then we don't know about the success rate among dragons when committing utuma. I don't think that it would be an automatic success, and receiving the aid of a slayer creates an obligation that would be debilitating if we can apply the dragonewt ethic to true dragons as well.

The utuma of Obduran the Flyer was a bodily ascension, after just a few days as True Dragon. Obduran didn't leave any bodily remains behind.

Other slain dragons like Sh'harkarzeel, Nestentos and Aroka haven't overcome their ties to the world of Glorantha yet, and perhaps never might.

We know of failed mystics, of unfinished ones, and of vanquished but part-way ascended ones (such as Ingolf or Herusenav). I expect much of this to apply to ascending True Dragons as well.

If the dragons accept that not every member of their species will achieve the ultimate ascendance, they might be cool with the victims of Waertag and his children being stuck somewhere half-way.

9 minutes ago, metcalph said:

The Dragonewt goes after people because the presence of armour inhibits future spiritual development.  But the True Dragon having attained full development has no worries about what happens to its body after death (and the Cosmic Dragon was quite free for lesser developed things to spawn from its corpse).

That's sort of my point - the dragon undergoes utuma when it is ready to release its last ties to the world/universe of its birth. What happens if the dragon wasn't ready? And if the dragon was ready, what kept it hanging around? Are the dragons of Glorantha nothing more than a suicide squad waiting for a worthy slayer?

 

9 minutes ago, metcalph said:

Nothing delayed about it.  It ceases being a True Dragon at the moment of Death.  All Dragons must welcome such a prospect (which is why they did little to save the world from chaos).  

Few entities set about saving the world from Chaos. Everybody fought to save themselves and what they regarded as theirs.

True Dragons ought to have the mystical insight to avoid corruption by Chaos, and the physical power to fend off ordinary attacks. Those who remained rather than seeking utuma apparently did, it was weaker creatures who succumbed to Chaos, becoming the stoorworms or chaotic hydras.

 

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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15 hours ago, Joerg said:

Not the undead corpses, but living bodies.

One can have living bodies of True Dragons without the bodies being True Dragons.  That's why I said Frankenstein's Monster (who is not undead).  If the City Ship was actually that of a True Dragon then I would expect it to say so instead of the phrase "living bodies of True Dragons" which creates some distance between the True Dragon and the City ship.

 

15 hours ago, Joerg said:

I would expect the life in that ship to be leached from the original entity, rather than a different life bestowed to the golem dragon.

Why?  What is wrong with the Waertagi after killing the creature, dissecting it and reassembling it to invoke the power of Triolina (or whomever) to give life to the corpse so it could serve them?  They probably do it with other sea creatures (such as whales, pleiosaurs and giant crabs).  There's no actual need for the life force to be the True Dragons, only the body is required.  

 

15 hours ago, Joerg said:

One way this could have been done would be with one of the spirit trap items from the Vadel story produced by the Kadeniti - sever the spirit of the dragon and force it into the trap, then release enough of it back into the body to return it to life. Such a state of slavery would prevent successful utuma, though.

I don't think we need to invoke Vadeli magic when the Waertagi were opponents of the Vadeli and that nobody accused the Waertagi of necromancy or anything so vile.  

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6 hours ago, metcalph said:

One can have living bodies of True Dragons without the bodies being True Dragons.  That's why I said Frankenstein's Monster (who is not undead).  If the City Ship was actually that of a True Dragon then I would expect it to say so instead of the phrase "living bodies of True Dragons" which creates some distance between the True Dragon and the City ship.

Ok. Let's assume the Waertagi had a Frankenstein magic.

Would this magic only work on the bodies of sea dragons, or would it work on creatures like baleen whales, too? Wouldn't they construct weird hollowed-out living critter vehicles for all of their craft?

If it has to be sea dragons, what (apart from their size) is it that makes them (and possibly only them) viable for this form of resculpting?

What other items would the Waertagi make out of living critter stuff? To compare, the aldryami wield living weaponry, might have living armor, and grow special fruits, sheddable  bark or limbs for their other material needs. Wouldn't the Waertagi logically bio-engineer their stuff, too?

Or do they power their transformation magic with the magical energy of the overcome dragon? If that's the case, then this doesn't look like utuma, rather like massive tapping, and no liberation of the dragon. A False Utuma trap.

 

6 hours ago, metcalph said:

Why?  What is wrong with the Waertagi after killing the creature, dissecting it and reassembling it to invoke the power of Triolina (or whomever) to give life to the corpse so it could serve them?  They probably do it with other sea creatures (such as whales, pleiosaurs and giant crabs).  There's no actual need for the life force to be the True Dragons, only the body is required.  

If that Frankenstein bio-egineering is their signature magic (in addition to the well documented mastery of the waves and currents), then I would expect it to permeate their daily life implements, too. Was Delecti a renegade Waertagi?

Rereading the first chapter of the Aftal story (the only one playing on his ship), the use of the sea dragons (which apparently come in schools and much smaller sizes than the city ships), these beasts are harvested for their bodies, with no intention to create any living ship out of them.

The city captained by Aftal is not a city-ship, though, but a hodgepodge of lesser vessels assembled to create a space that would escape the curse of the Closing by pretending to be a reef or the like. These ships don't make journeys any more.

 

I am perfectly aware that the Aftal story does not reflect the current view of the Waertagi, or Jrustela. It is interesting to see that Dormal's story predates that of Nochet by at least a decade. The early stories had dragons which may have changed a lot in the meantime, too.

 

Sea Dragons still are a Gloranthan truth. They can be hunted from rather small vessels, just like Waertag and his sons did when they captured the first City Ship dragon.

 

It is interesting that the concept of mechanized, hollowed out dragons pops up independently with Tolkien's long unpublished account of the Fall of Gondolin and with the Waertagi city ships.

 Are there any such themes or depictions in pre-WW1 phantastic literature, or in artwork like e.g. Hieronymus Bosch?

 

6 hours ago, metcalph said:

I don't think we need to invoke Vadeli magic when the Waertagi were opponents of the Vadeli and that nobody accused the Waertagi of necromancy or anything so vile.  

Reread RM p.11:

Quote

On his visit, Vadel received the Energy Prison from Zzabur, which was copied by the Kadeniti from the Iron Energy Prison.

Vadel did the (copyright) theft, but the item is of Zzabur's design:

Quote

 It was a wooden rod, with bronze and gold rings, not iron, carved with runes.

This means that orthodox Malkioni have the "Energy Prison" magic available from Zzabur's writings.

It is to be expected that there is an overlap between Zzabur's and Vadeli magic. The same roots, initially friendly exchange, later mutual theft.

 

 

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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I agree with Peter that it's odd that we have no dragon or dragonnewt myths of Pamaltela at all except this one bit of speculation. I agree with Joerg that the real story may involve slarges or lascerdans.

It is also possible that the Greater hydra have something to with it, and maybe more or less the results of chaos conquering the dragons (the Amethyst Dragon of Greater Chaos as an intermediate stage doesn't contradict this theory). 

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On 18/07/2017 at 10:27 AM, JanPospisil said:

Some Dragonewts have various frills and protruding decorative bits that could've easily turned into feathers. And there's always magic if that was too evolution-y. In my mind there were tribes of intelligent feathered dinosaurs using tools and wearing furs during the Storm Age. 

Like this: Simon Roy's Dinosauroids

Well developing feathers would be indicative of moving away from their dragon path, so is perfect. And any excuse to promote Simons' dinosaurids is fine by me ;)

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