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Glorantha Quickstart: Top Ten Ways Glorantha differs/is like the Real World

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At a glance, Glorantha superficially resembles Earth, but as we know, it ain't Kansas. For newcomers this can be a bit challenging, so it is helpful to outlines what things are the same.

What are the things you think are most strikingly alike/most different?

I'll start things off. In the end I want to boil it down to 10 or so similar - 10 different...

Similar

1. Blue Sky, a sun that rises in the east and sets in the west, stars that twinkle at night.

2. Glorantha has "Gravity"

3. Glorantha has a horizon (cue contentious debate?)

4. Terrestrial features - mountains, deserts, seas, etc though the forces that made them are not the same as on Earth.

 

Different

1. It's not a spherical planet orbiting a sun, it's flat/lozenge/cube, floating in the cosmic ocean. It has Moons.

2. The sky is dome, analogous to the Biblical firmament or Greek celestial spheres. The Sun literally emerges from the Gates of Dawn, and travels across the Sky Dome until it reaches the Gates of Dusk, then disappears into the Underworld. 

3. Five seasons

4. 

 

 

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Two moons

Magic is real

The Runes do not represent aspects of reality; instead reality represents the Runes

Non-humans (The Elder Races) are truly alien to humankind

 

 

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The sun passes almost directly overhead, even in winter. It always rises and sets exactly in the east and west.

Stars hardly rise or sink except for those close to the horizon, most stars are visible all night long.

The tides (tied to the Blue Moon) creep in slowly about twice a week but ebb dramatically fast. (Tidal waves exist, they are closer to small tsunamis.) Tides are stronger wherever one is closer to the constellation "River" in the sky.

There are no months, the Red Moon phases over a weekly cycle. (The Blue Moon isn't visible for long enough to discern whether it phases, it climbs the sky outside of the Sky Dome.)

The year has 1/6th less days - a harvest can be somewhat shorter than on earth without threatening famine.

Rivers and at times even seas don't necessarily stay flat in their banks, but may resemble a jellyfish tendril of flowing and eddying water. The Syphon River in Heortland which flows uphill is such a river for most of its length.

Plants, animals and even places may be sapient, able to speak, or to form humanoid bodies at will. Most aren't, but you might always be in for a surprise.

Mountains and cliff sides rise way higher than you are used to.

Magic is real, and often can be discerned by giving off light effects or other changes to the natural world around it if strong enough.

Magic is required to keep the world alive - up to two weeks a year all Gloranthans perform simultaneous rites for the rebirth of the world at the shift of years.

 

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  • Religions and beliefs do influence normal life with respect to motivation, cultural behaviour, etc. similar to (ancient) real life on earth.
  • Gods and spirits do exist.
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* Everything is explained by myth and magic, not physics.
* Everyone knows where they will go after they die - they've seen it.
* 1 in 150 soldiers accidentally decapitate themselves every battle.

Edited by Roko Joko
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it's a violent place to live, injury and death are commonplace, but due to healing magic recovery even from death is quick - though this does contribute to violence

polytheism is the norm

democracy and the rights the individual do not exist

 

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30 minutes ago, Roko Joko said:

* 1 in 150 soldiers accidentally decapitate themselves every battle.

I laughed out loud at that one...

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Different

  • Most mountains were/are gods.
  • Sleeping 'true' dragons are geography, ranges of hills or mountains.
  • Weather is partly controlled by magic, and not for the better.
  • Synchronicity: events that are meaningfully related occur without a causal relationship.
  • Due to healing magic, infection from wounds is much less common.
  • Trolls love to eat dwarves because it gets them high.
  • Thunderbreath Gobbleguts Restaurant!

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So as not to be swayed by others I sleepily wrote this list before I read the post so there may be duplicates.

Similar

  1. There is gravity and water flows downhill and empties in the seas and oceans
  2. Geographic features such as mountains, rivers, oceans, plains, etc. exist
  3. People organize into tribes, clans, nations and cults/religions
  4. Many people are devoted to their diety (though the methods and results differ0
  5. Ships float, winds blow, climates exist (though not necessarily the same as Earth)
  6. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, 
  7. Cattle seem to be important to the survival of most humans
  8. Different cultures have different myths or stories describing their origins
  9. Day to day life for the average farmer is probably not much different (wake up, eat, tend to the fields/herds/farm, etc.)
  10. There are ducks

Different

  1. All the gods are real (versus maybe Earth’s prevailing monotheistic religions)
  2. Runes are the foundational building blocks of the universe versus sub-atomic particles
  3. Magic is real in Glorantha and has real effects in the world
  4. Time is different, from when it began to how long the years are and the length and number of seasons
  5. There are living dinosaurs
  6. Geographic features were often created as the result of the gods actions
  7. “Bronze” in Glorantha is not the same as on Earth having 
  8. The far north is frigidly cold and populated by ice demons, the far south is fiery hot and populated by monsters
  9. Earth has Dungeons & Dragons, Glorantha has RuneQuest. (Meta)
  10. There are ducks
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39 minutes ago, boztakang said:

Ernalda is Love, and wants to keep things close.

In that case, gravity would be going in the reverse direction in the Underworld, and you wouldn't be able to fall into the Underworld, the way you definitely can (attested in more than one place). Aristotelian "gravity" would be nice, but doesn't really work.

It can't just pull towards the center of the Earth cube - there must be some fundamental "down" to Glorantha.

Edited by Akhôrahil

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1 minute ago, Akhôrahil said:

In that case, gravity would be going in the reverse direction in the Underworld, and you wouldn't be able to fall into the Underworld, the way you definitely can. 

It can't just pull towards the center of the Earth cube - there must be some fundamental "down" to Glorantha.

But then, what do folk in the underworld walk on? Until you reach the Primal Darkness, there is always Earth underfoot. In the Primal Darkness, there is no 'you' to be Loved, and no Earth to do the loving, so things get all floaty there in all sorts of terrifying ways.

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8 hours ago, Roko Joko said:

* 1 in 150 soldiers accidentally decapitate themselves every battle.

 

7 hours ago, MOB said:

I laughed out loud at that one...

 

Thanatarist!:P

Edited by Atgxtg
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19 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

In that case, gravity would be going in the reverse direction in the Underworld, and you wouldn't be able to fall into the Underworld, the way you definitely can (attested in more than one place). Aristotelian "gravity" would be nice, but doesn't really work.

It can't just pull towards the center of the Earth cube - there must be some fundamental "down" to Glorantha.

I don't think so. There must only be a myth justifying this (rather than explaining), which is a major difference with our real Earth (to come back to the OP).

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38 minutes ago, Zit said:

I don't think so. There must only be a myth justifying this (rather than explaining), which is a major difference with our real Earth (to come back to the OP).

"Up" and "down" got separated in the Green Age? :)

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40 minutes ago, 7Tigers said:

Actually, that debate doesn't even attempt to define gravity, it only fields a few theories and observations, and then discusses a crackpot theory how Glorantha could be a planet like Earth, and why not.

36 minutes ago, boztakang said:

But then, what do folk in the underworld walk on? Until you reach the Primal Darkness, there is always Earth underfoot. In the Primal Darkness, there is no 'you' to be Loved, and no Earth to do the loving, so things get all floaty there in all sorts of terrifying ways.

The Underworld consists of Darkness, as does the border to the Chaosium. The logical conclusion is that the people, demons and other denizens walk on solid Darkness when they don't float/swim/transsubstantiate through it (no flying dow there, IMO). Really little different from the movement of earth elementals through the soil.

Does there have to be a "you" to be loved?

Heaviness is a type of Earth magic, and I think it is a form of mastery rather than harmony. At least in Thunder Rebels it used to be an aspect of Ernalda the Queen. though tied to the ordinary earth rune. While Kadone's magic is specifically described only for storm flyers, I don't see why she should not be able to affect low-hanging stars, clouds, or waves.

2 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

"Up" and "down" got separated in the Green Age? :)

Mostal made it. The Spike points up, the reverse direction is down. Those directions don't have anything to do with heaviness, though, and I doubt strongly that there is an inverse square law defining a distance between the Red Moon and Glamour where gravities cancel out.

Trick question - could an Orlanthi be attracted to the Red Moon, or would he be repelled?

Is it possible for flyers (whether human or beast) to move between the Moon and the Crater? Can clouds? Or is there some mystical barrier pushing every flying thing around the Crater? What do you see in the Crater when standing on the moon, looking down on Glamour? The Void? A reflection of the surface of the Moon? Both?

Is the Moon hanging between Earth and Sky a matter of attraction, of repulsion, or of balance?

 

On the matter of involuntary self-beheadings in battle (which made me snort, too) - are archers, slingers and spear or pike-armed troups affected, too, or is this limited to axe- or sword-armed warriors?

And has anybody, ever, played an entire battle as round-by-round combat between individual RuneQuest characters with at least full combat stats? (Given the simulationist spirit of the rpgs in those times, I wouldn't think this impossible for a battle between clans or similar sized forces.)

 

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1 minute ago, Joerg said:

Trick question - could an Orlanthi be attracted to the Red Moon, or would he be repelled?

The Red Moon makes for an interesting case, in that it is spherical and that its inhabitants walk around on the lower part without falling off (or so I assume?). So at the very least, it has it's own system of 'gravity' or 'down', separate from the rest of Glorantha.

I'm sure some people would cry "Chaos!" at this upending of the natural order.

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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

And has anybody, ever, played an entire battle as round-by-round combat between individual RuneQuest characters with at least full combat stats? (Given the simulationist spirit of the rpgs in those times, I wouldn't think this impossible for a battle between clans or similar sized forces.)

 

The 'Cradle Scenario' springs to mind! The fights to defend the Cradle were a nightmare to run using the old RQ3 combat system, as I recall, (at least in my own, humble opinion).

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Having great difficulty shedding science and logic, I'd always assumed that physical forces worked the same as in the RW, which would tend to indicate that the processes involved are the same.  I looked at it as magic counteracting or modifying basic physical laws, and generally only locally.  Whatever the case, it seems it's more instructive to examine the differences than the similarities between the two physical worlds/universes.  So...are there any other differences that people can come up with?

(Maybe, as mentioned above, we should start a separate thread...)

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Yes, but we don't notice most of them. For instance, the metals aren't the same-that was mentioned in the RQ rules. Bronze, Iron, etc. are just analogues to make it easier for use to deal with.

 

Are you sure that there is gravity in Glorantha? Yes object and people fall, but it might not be viewed as a force acting upon them, per say, but simply that they are returning to their natural place in the world- or some such. Years ago, one GM who used to run games in a medieval setting used to used medieval physical laws, rather than modern ones. So in his campaign a lead ball would fall faster than a wooden one. I suspect that Glorantha is riddled with stuff like that. 

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1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

... Years ago, one GM who used to run games in a medieval setting used to used medieval physical laws, rather than modern ones. So in his campaign a lead ball would fall faster than a wooden one. I suspect that Glorantha is riddled with stuff like that. 

Ars Magica is explicitly this way; the "medieval paradigm" explicitly is *NOT* physics.  For example, "Ignem" is the art of fire, governing both heat and light, but Imaginem is the art of the senses, including vision.  A visual illusion (using the art of Imaginem) operates without affecting or being affected by Ignem-based light effects; you cannot make yourself "invisible" by using Ignem to affect the light around you; etc.

The (meta)physics is just DIFFERENT.

Because it's so VERY similar, though -- including having mostly the same people, the same cities/nations/etc as in the history books -- it's deceptively similar, and has gotten a fair bit of attention paid to the in-game not-physics.

I think Glorantha could benefit from something similar... like "what is gravity" and other "basic physics" ideas,

Edited by g33k
More cowbells!!! ummm, no, wait... MORE GLORANTH!

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Yeah, I'm fond of Ars Magica. 

I run into paradigm problems with people in the real world. For instance, trying to explain to some people than air conditioners and refrigerators don't actually generate "cold". They just move moisture around, and that shifts thermal energy (heat) from inside the box to outside the box. Now it might sound like sematics, but from a physics/design process it's actually an important distinction. 

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