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David Scott

Guide to Glorantha Group Read Week 8 - Beyond the Middle World

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Mike Perry did the The Four Otherworlds piece based on Jeff's initial sketch:

5992f4a286b2c_Thefiveworldsedit.thumb.png.31eb20eddcd1d07167d5dadd080cce02.png

@Charles I have a feeling that were you involved in this?

Edited by David Scott
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8 hours ago, David Scott said:

Mike Perry did the The Four Otherworlds piece based on Jeff's initial sketch:

5992f4a286b2c_Thefiveworldsedit.thumb.png.31eb20eddcd1d07167d5dadd080cce02.png

@Charles I have a feeling that were you involved in this?

So was I, but let's not go there ;)

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10 hours ago, David Scott said:

Mike Perry did the The Four Otherworlds piece based on Jeff's initial sketch:

5992f4a286b2c_Thefiveworldsedit.thumb.png.31eb20eddcd1d07167d5dadd080cce02.png

@Charles I have a feeling that were you involved in this?

Yep, that stick figure sketch is my sole attempt at dipping my toes into art direction. Opinionated but think it was a pretty good attempt ?

There is one regret. I used the beast rune instead of the dragon rune ?

I would have loved to have given an in-Glorantha explanation for the creation of the picture. Something like it was commissioned by Argrath to help in the creation and training of the Sartar Magical Union. But that would make it an 'anachronism' in the timeline of the Guide.

@Jeff and I had spent many, many hours discussing the structure of the otherworlds and how to keep the best parts of the separate otherworlds (one for gods, a different one for spirits and yet another for essences) while hugely simplifying and making a better fit with many of the stories. What we concluded was that the best explanation is that the different magical traditions see the other worlds in such different ways that they seem to be talking about different places. At the end of that discussion, Jeff suggested I drew something less technical and more story based than my previous diagrams. So one Sunday afternoon, I sat down and drew the above in around 2 hours.

I chose to start with a view of Kero Fin from Sartar, and tried to make a perspective from a specific place on the map. Then I drew my imagination of how a powerful sorcerer would view the magic of the location. Then the Theistic view, specifically, a Sartarite/Orlanthi view. And finally how a powerful Shaman would view the magic of the same location.

I still think that the Underworld is a different place to the the God place. And the cultures that we are most familiar with do tend to think of it as dark, dangerous and unfriendly, even hostile. But some parts of the Underworld are not dark (but always dangerous).

Edited by Charles
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p159  The Map is most interesting with regards to Altinela (certainly different from that in Arcane Lore).  I wonder if the mountains surrounding it are the Mountains of the Sky?  No Islands on the far side of Vithela.

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7 hours ago, Charles said:

I still think that the Underworld is a different place to the the God place. And the cultures that we are most familiar with do tend to think of it as dark, dangerous and unfriendly, even hostile. But some parts of the Underworld are not dark (but always dangerous).

I think there is a tendency to mix up the Underworld with Hell. Though the Underworld contains many Hells, it isn't of itself Hell.

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4 hours ago, Dogboy said:

I think there is a tendency to mix up the Underworld with Hell. Though the Underworld contains many Hells, it isn't of itself Hell.

Totally agree!

Furthermore, it is likely that the troll hell is somewhere in the sky.

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3 hours ago, Dogboy said:

I think there is a tendency to mix up the Underworld with Hell. Though the Underworld contains many Hells, it isn't of itself Hell.

True. The Ernaldan Afterlife is partially in the Deep Earth, partially in the Storm Village in the Godworld. There is a shared Lodril/Oria underground afterlife, too.

Not all hells are cold darkness, either. The former Wonderhome has become a hell of too bright light and searing ashes.

This actually makes me wonder how Death is connected to the fertile Underworld realm of Wonderhome.

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1 hour ago, Charles said:

Totally agree!

Furthermore, it is likely that the troll hell is somewhere in the sky.

Or, as Joerg points out, it's Wonderhome itself ;)

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17 hours ago, Dogboy said:

I think there is a tendency to mix up the Underworld with Hell. Though the Underworld contains many Hells, it isn't of itself Hell.

I believe that many Gloranthans have the same misunderstanding. "Our hell is in the Underworld. Our neighbours' and other enemies hells are in the Underworld. Therefore the Underworld is hell."

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More great art.  I love the map.  Interesting forms for the pillar gods - some expected, some not.  The contrast of this white pillar god(dess) who looks like Chalana Arroy with the bearded man in the prior chapter, for instance.  Which will you encounter when you heroquest there?  Who do you encounter at the Gate of Dawn? Vith or this golden goddess?  The Luathan with pointy ears (Vulcans in Glorantha? - beings of perfect logic?). 

How large is Altinela?  And Luathela much larger here too.  Makes you feel like you should explore these hostile and distant lands.  It looks to be a 2nd Age map given that Jrustela is intact and Brithos exists.

The Four Otherworlds is another intriguing piece.  Nice to see Jajagappa in the central position in the Underworld group. :-)  The Sorcerous Plane reflects back to the Cosmology.  The Spirit Plane gives a sense of odd amorphousness.

And there's my favorite text from the Guide: "Hidden deep underneath the center of the bottom of the lowest Underworld is the Chaosium, the Fount of Chaos, which spews forth both monstrosities and raw unformed “stuff ” into the world."

 

Edited by jajagappa
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I love maps in general, and I especially love the one on p.159. Makes me immediately start comparing it with other maps, and it's very nice to see Jrustrela etc, as @jajagappa said.

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I think of the three main other worlds as essentially three different ways of perceiving the other world - which is essentially one single other world, with the caveats that there are parts of it that are essentially only intelligible, or only perceivable, in certain ways. All three means of perception might be able to understand the idea of light driving back dark, or storm fighting the sea. But animists can't make sense of the emotional content of a mathematical concept, the essential worldview can't comprehend being a different kind of intellect, like becoming experiencingbthe workd as animals do - so there are aspects/parts of the world cut off from each other. 

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It made a lot of sense to me that the Troll Otherworld is always the Underworld. I presume this means Troll shamans normally travel into the Underworld rather than the Spirit Wiorld? It was definitely a surprise to me that this is also the Aldryami method (thought obviously a different part of the Underworld), but it makes an interesting sense - I presume Aldryami see this as travel into the deep Earth, and then continuing below?

 

 

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2 hours ago, davecake said:

I presume Aldryami see this as travel into the deep Earth, and then continuing below?

Sounds reasonable - follow your roots!

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So, a first round attempt at a grand unifying otherworld theory. 

Without attempting to explain what the otherworld is any more than I have to..

.... to perceive and fully enter the otherworld requires adjustment to your perceptions beyond the normal. This adjustment can be an inner process, or a magically assisted one, but is an essential element of becoming a fully active magician.. 

This enhancement of perception to include magical senses varies by magical Path. We loosely characterise these into four methods (though in practice, there are some methods that do not perfectly fit into those four characterisations). The enhanced magical senses developed by becoming a full magician also imply a particular world view, a particular way of looking at the world - it is a natural tendency that the full development of one form of magical comprehension of the world interferes with the development of others, as it would require the simultaneous application of differing mindsets, which is not impossible but is extremely difficult and unusual. 

There are many aspects of the magical world that can be understood and comprehended in multiple ways, and can be understood to be the same Otherworld, though perceived subjectively differently enough that it is common to consider it multiple different worlds. 

This perception, of there being multiple different otherworlds, exists in part because there are aspects of the magical world that are difficult or impossible to understand when experienced via an inappropriate means of magical perception. The 'Essential' world includes highly abstract concepts, with no direct representation in mundane reality, such as mathematical constructs. The Spirit World includes the perception of world from the perspective of non-sapient beings, and is a worldview in which everything is sentient. The God view is the world in which things are anthropomorphised, and includes experiences that are unique to a sapient, living, conscious, perspective.

The mystic worldview strives to find an experience of pure consciousness that unifies, or transcends, all of these other ways of looking at the world. It is no accident that the mystic worldview is often concerned with the mindset of beings that precede normal sapient mortality, because they wish to transcend the limits of sapience. Illumination is this moment of pure consciousness without preconception, and by this experience one can perceive the world in contradictory ways simultaneously, by experiencing the perceived contradictions as just artifacts of consciousness. Or however the mystic in question chooses to articulate that which can't be truly expressed, but only experienced. From a practical sense, the illuminate not only is able to easily understand and discard the difference between ultimately similar but irreconcilable positions (such embodying both Love and Death), but also positions that seem to involve understandings of the world that are so contradictory as to be normally meaningless nonsense (what does it mean for the concept of algebraic permutation to have a fruitful marriage to this mountain?), and so can navigate between those parts of the otherworld that are normally incompatible. 

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5 hours ago, davecake said:

From a practical sense, the illuminate not only is able to easily understand and discard the difference between ultimately similar but irreconcilable positions (such embodying both Love and Death), but also positions that seem to involve understandings of the world that are so contradictory as to be normally meaningless nonsense (what does it mean for the concept of algebraic permutation to have a fruitful marriage to this mountain?), and so can navigate between those parts of the otherworld that are normally incompatible. 

The contradictions between the theistic and sorcerous worldviews were not an obstacle to the God Learners, though, who did exactly that.

 

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28 minutes ago, Tcneseis said:

The contradictions between the theistic and sorcerous worldviews were not an obstacle to the God Learners, though, who did exactly that.

Yes. That was one of their secrets.

The God Learners are something like the opposite of mystics. They did so through experiment and reductionist analysis followed by optmistic over-generalization rather than through a holistic approach. While their basic methods like the Runequest Sight lasted, the method yielded results, although it also caused collateral effects. So they analyzed the collateral effects and minimized those as much as they could. Like eliminating the mythical antibodies called up by their meddling rather than modify their meddling.

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

The God Learners are something like the opposite of mystics. They did so through experiment and reductionist analysis followed by optmistic over-generalization rather than through a holistic approach. While their basic methods like the Runequest Sight lasted, the method yielded results, although it also caused collateral effects. So they analyzed the collateral effects and minimized those as much as they could. Like eliminating the mythical antibodies called up by their meddling rather than modify their meddling.

It may explain why Valastos of the Seven Pens' warnings were not taken seriously.

 

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5 hours ago, Joerg said:

The God Learners are something like the opposite of mystics. They did so through experiment and reductionist analysis followed by optmistic over-generalization rather than through a holistic approach.

I think this is an excellent point. The mystic (or the Illuminate) sees everything as one thing. The God Learner method is analysis, literally breaking things into smaller things and experiencing and understanding those instead. It's the exact opposite of the mystic's holistic approach. In our world, analysis is the vastly superior way of understanding things and the foundation of science and technology; in Glorantha, not necessarily as much...

Edited by Akhôrahil

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I'm not sure that the God Learners were able to personally reconcile theism and sorcery normally. That is, I think the average God Learner generally was bound by cult restrictions in the normal way.

But:

some God Learners were illuminated.

their favourite theist cult was Lhankor Mhy, which integrates sorcery anyway.

you don't actually need to give up your sorcery unless you become a devotee - I think they simply didn't do that much. 

I do think they regarded this as a practical limitation, rather than one with significant moral consequences.

I think the God Learners understood Illumination as the direct experience of Makan, the One Mind. The Irensavalists do too - but they think of Makan as the evil Demiurge, so Illumination is a temptation to wickedness. 

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To the extent that the God Learners are able to reconcile the intellectual and reductive sorcerous worldview with the anthropocentric worldview of theism, it's because they believed that they could fully understand and analyse what it was to be human. Their philosophy was like the philosophy of mind school called functionalism, which believes that once you have fully described the practical, functional, measurable aspects of the mind, you have described it entirely and explained consciousness. 

The RuneQuest Sight, IMO, was this form of analysis - they believed they could analyse and understand not just the Otherworld and the universe, but humanity and the mortal experience. Analyse in such a way that, say, in theory a human being could be practically described in full by a lot of numbers, numbers that you could, for example, theoretically write down on a piece of paper... I think I've said too much. 

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21 hours ago, davecake said:

I'm not sure that the God Learners were able to personally reconcile theism and sorcery normally. That is, I think the average God Learner generally was bound by cult restrictions in the normal way.

But:

some God Learners were illuminated.

their favourite theist cult was Lhankor Mhy, which integrates sorcery anyway.

Right. This is different from what the Seshnegi did at the Dawn. Zzaburi then knew better than to meddle with the cults of the gods which were widespread and supported the royalty.

21 hours ago, davecake said:

I think the God Learners understood Illumination as the direct experience of Makan, the One Mind. The Irensavalists do too - but they think of Makan as the evil Demiurge, so Illumination is a temptation to wickedness.

Is it the same Illumination as Nysalor's Illumination?

 

Edited by Tcneseis

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On 18/08/2017 at 8:56 PM, davecake said:

Their favourite theist cult was Lhankor Mhy, which integrates sorcery anyway.

Or has only been since they dabbled with it?

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4 hours ago, Dogboy said:

Or has only been since they dabbled with it?

I semi-recall (from before the Guide, likely way back from RQ days) that the God Learners interfered with the cults of Lankhor Mhy and Issaries to make them more useful in the course of their experiments and meddling. I'm not sure if this is still canonical.

10 hours ago, Tcneseis said:

Is it the same Illumination as Nysalor's Illumination?

There are many different forms of Illumination. But basically, they are all different paths to the same place (powers and effects). Draconic knowledge, Nysalorean, Kralorean mysticism, and many other less known forms. In my opinion, about the only difference is a tendency to different moral stances - the more rigourous / disciplined paths generally result in fewer 'people' that break the world. People is relative here, no-one that is Illuminated is truly human.

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