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Guide to Glorantha Group Read Week 5 - Mostali


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3 hours ago, B. Cephalus said:

One thing I noticed when reading this chapter was that Mostali don't have (or at least don't use) any kind of engine. They use animal power to make their larger machines run - even the Capstan of Curustus is powered by dinosaurs.

Personally, I favour a vaguer definition of this - Mostly don't appear to have or use any kind of engine. I'd also go so far as to speculate that living things might be their engines, as they are part of the world machine.

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On 24/07/2017 at 11:41 PM, Oracle said:

The Alchemical Transformer: the illustration and even more the description text piqued my curiosity. Do we know more about this?

The full text of which the sidebar is part comes from the White Bear Red Moon board game, it's one of the items the Dwarf can loan:

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THE ALCHEMICAL TRANSFORMER was a marvelous piece of philosopher's dreams, arcane apparatus, and dwarf cunning. Its parts were loaded upon sturdy wagons and drawn by bllnd cave oxen, tended by a cult of devoted human worshippers. Though it was a plece of maglcal equipment. the slaves who tended it were not

Magicians, and thus the unit may not use normal Magic Rules but can only act passively as a tool for other magicians. It may not even defend itself from enemy attack if it is not protected. by a friendly unit.

The Transformer unit does count in stacking, and doubles the MgF for any units stacked with it. If it is stacked with a magician, it doubles either their MgF or their RF. If the Transformer and Dwarf are stacked together they double a magician's MgF and RF. 

MgF = Magic Factor, RF = Range Factor.

Here's the original preproduction counter from White Bear Red Moon:

597dda8bdd413_ScreenShot2017-07-30at14_08_27.png.fec6cf512381f83c9faf607c9c07a30c.png

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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8 hours ago, B. Cephalus said:

One thing I noticed when reading this chapter was that Mostali don't have (or at least don't use) any kind of engine. They use animal power to make their larger machines run - even the Capstan of Curustus is powered by dinosaurs.

 

My thinking is that they can use engines (in the mechanical/magical sense), but for something big it's a lot simpler and takes less effort on their part just to harness some creatures to do it.

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10 hours ago, B. Cephalus said:

One thing I noticed when reading this chapter was that Mostali don't have (or at least don't use) any kind of engine. They use animal power to make their larger machines run - even the Capstan of Curustus is powered by dinosaurs.

 

One could nuance this by saying that it's the dwarves of Slon which favour using animal power (their stoneships are powered by humans on treadmills).  The Dwarves of Nida may have a slightly different philosophy.  Given their research into black powder weapons, they may favour the release of energy in the form of short bursts rather than as a sustained, controlled release.  In other words rather than a treadmill operated bore, they may favour explosives.

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On 28/07/2017 at 7:28 PM, Dogboy said:

I do see what you mean, but I'm not sure I agree. You are seeing technology that you feel is anachronistic, but ignoring the fact that they also have technology that makes golems. You are looking at it wrong, in my opinion.

I do not think Mostali have technology that makes golems. I think they have sorcery that makes golems, and that is entirely different. So I very much think you are looking at it wrong, in my opinion! 

Jolanti, for example, are not mechanisms made of stone. They are living stone. They are Stone that sorcery has restored to its God Time original state, before Death came to Stone.

And other Mostali creatures like bronze goats are similarly metal given life. They do not get the energy required to live from being wound up, they get it from eating food like other living beings. 

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Could Mostali make a Difference Engine? Of course they could, but they don't because there are Gold Mostali to do any calculation. Mostali have no imagination.

And see, now we have leapt from 'maybe Mostali have technology like the best of the ancient Greeks' to Mostali definitely have the technology of the 19th Century, that is, IMO, a huge and inappropriate leap. Canonically aeolopiles are a big deal for them as far as complex mechanical devices go. They have gears, but not precision manufacture. 

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Mostali "believe" in the Artificer, and that is the lens throug which they see the world. The world is mechanistic, and everything within it is a mechanism, part of the larger engine. They see very little difference between the Antikythera mechanism and a man, because there is none. Both should work perfectly, but one is the construction of a derailed system, and follows broken programming. Likewise they see no difference between a Mostali and a clock; both are mere constructs. Both are tools.

I think this presentation of the Mostali entirely ignores that the Mostali technology is Magic, and so leaps to assuming they have the technology of an entirely anachronistic non-magical technological civilisation. 

They don't think of men and clockwork as the same, because our concept of energy and the Gloranthan concept of Energy are totally different - the best clock still has no POW, Clocks lack the Man Rune, etc. It isn't conservatism that holds them back from making computers, its that the live in a magical world that operates on different rules, and makes it far more likely they'll develop a universal solvent or find a way to bottle memories. 

We need to draw inspiration not from 19th century science inspired fiction. We need to look at magical ideas that are mechanistic or pre-scientific. In Glorantha Alchemy isn't the predecessor to chemistry that will become more scientific and less magical as our understanding grows - rather, Alchemy is a true understanding of the world that enables more impressive magic as we understand it better. 

We need not to turn Mostali into 19th century steampunk munchkins. We need them to be magicians, magicians who see the world as a complex interacting set of alchemical processes. Mostali machines are covered in magic inscriptions, have bizarre (and at high levels, like the dwarves of the Eddas, impossible) ingredients in their alloys, work on the basis of magical correspondences of substances and colours and shapes with the runes, the planets, and alchemical concepts. 

And like the alchemists, they think to make things perfect. I've long thought that producing adamantium, the perfect substance, is a major goal of Mostali alchemy, their equivalent of the Philosophers Stone. 

 

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But even that isn't correct. Most Mostali don't "believe" anything, they just operate. The issue is that things are broken, so Mostali have created a system of quarantines, to distance themselves from infection. What we see as "heresy" is actually just divergence from norm. Any "heretic" knows they are divergent, and that they can't interact with "normal" Mostali, for fear of infecting them. "Heretics" know they are part of the Machine, and that they have a role, but that role is to deal with things that "orthodox" Mostali can't risk. Mostali know they have to deal with the world, they just can't risk the infection. So they send out "Openhandists" to deal with the outside, and "Octamonists" to disinfect and shore up and breaches.

I also disagree with this interpretation. The Mostali don't 'distance' themselves from heretics. They fight vicious, ruthless, merciless wars. 

 

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OK, I think my point wasn't clear (I'm really not good at putting my thoughts to words). I'm not saying they have technology, I'm saying they have whatever mechani-magical crazy shit we think is cool. As Joerg said, they are the people who make cool prostheses in myths; how it works doesn't matter a jot. It is Clarkian tech/magic, with the twist that technology in Glorantha is magic.

So, I take references to Black Powder with a pinch of salt; their weapons use thunderstones in opposition to an alchemical mix that represents sky and earth, which when animated creates great amounts of wind and clouds, which can propel a projectile. Is it gun-powder? no, but it can act similarly. Do they have clockwork? Not really, but they have things with gears that describe circular paths, because they attempt to simulate things that are cyclical; the movement of the Skydome, or the changing of workshifts.

My point is, what might appears to be technology isn't. It is a technology analogue.

 

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4 hours ago, davecake said:

We need not to turn Mostali into 19th century steampunk munchkins. We need them to be magicians, magicians who see the world as a complex interacting set of alchemical processes. Mostali machines are covered in magic inscriptions, have bizarre (and at high levels, like the dwarves of the Eddas, impossible) ingredients in their alloys, work on the basis of magical correspondences of substances and colours and shapes with the runes, the planets, and alchemical concepts. 

I agree with this thought, and think it makes the dwarves far more interesting.

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  • 11 months later...

Find below the application of the Law Rune to empower the Movement Rune through the Fire & Air Runes pushing one another back and forth in  opposition:

 Planetary-Gears.jpg

A shaft in the center of the Fire Rune above connects to the center of the Air Rune, embodied thusly:

330px-Clock_Mainspring.png

The Fire Rune wishes to steadily turn from East to West, but the more it does so, the more the Air Rune chafes and resists -  first slowing Fire's pace and eventually rising in outright rebellion as it violently spins the system from West to East.

Because the world is broken and out of balance,  Fire and Air eventually exhaust one another in their struggle, and Movement halts. The Mostali must then reassert the Truth of the proper order of things to re-energize the system:
78883188998ad302737984ba59bec04a.jpg

 

Depending on the metals used in the mechanism and the connected hardware surrounding the system, various effects can be produced. One especially noteworthy implementation involved applying the Movement of the shaft to spin a Death metal rod within coils of meticulously wound Fire metal wire, causing lightning to leap forth from the coil when the Storm Rune rebels and spins Death against Fire.

Magic is often applied symbolism. ;)

Edited by JonL
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