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Ufnal

Unification vs individuality?

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This probably isn't an original thought, as in the decades of Gloranthan speculation someone probably thought of that, but as a semi-noob I wanted to ask you: It's quite obvious that there's a cycle through Ages of conflict between powerful empires (at least in Genertela). However, do you feel it could be pretty much summed up as "Unification vs individual growth"? 

First Age - Nysalor is a product of a Council wanting to birth a god that would unite them, a god that tries to illuminate and incorporate everyone around it. Arkat is an individual who went through multiple great changes and a private illumination in order to fulfill his private obsession with destroying what he perceived as ultimate evil.

Second Age - God Learners wanted to provide a universal mythic framework that would incorporate and make obsolete all the others. EWF cared about personal illumination and/or personal draconic superpower for individual members. [I guess the idea of EWF making one huge dragon kinda screws that bit up?]

Third Age - Lunar Empire wants to prove that we are all us. Opposing it are individual heroes who fight amongst each other but whose individual deeds grant them powers to overthrow the Empire.

 

Does that make sense at all? Is it a common (or commonly discredited) theory I never heard of?

Edited by Ufnal
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I think that's a theme that's certainly there, but I don't think it's intended to be the defining or a singular theme. It's just in mystical experience, there tends to be (at least at first) a polarity and dynamic relationship between all and none, one and many, and pretty much all dualistic ideation, etc. At the end, it tends to resolve in the manner that the mystic recognizes there is actually no distinction between the two opposite ends of the spectrum. For a roleplaying/literary setting, esp. focused on myth and mysticism, those polarities are great drivers of story tension. Build opposing factions at the ends of these polarities and watch them go to literal or metaphorical war, with individuals transcending the particulars of the conflict and their cultures to acquire an Illuminated understanding. New cultures and religions can then develop from ordinary people trying to interpret these mystical insights, facilitating a future turning of the cycle of opposition.

This dynamic of tension and paradox is wonderfully illustrated in Arkat vs Nysalor. At the end of Arkat's and Nysalor's battle, it seems like Arkat wins, but even in winning, he has come to resemble his enemy. Maybe it wasn't Arkat who triumphed? Or maybe the Arkat who triumphed was more Nysalor than Arkat. Whatever the case, the two started at opposite ends, but with mystic insight, perhaps they came to see themselves in their enemy.

I have always struggled to put the EWF precisely into these terms, though. Not a branch of Glorantha lore that I'm in any way well versed in, I feel. 

The "We Are All Us" Lunar Empire vs individualistic Orlanthi fits very much, I think. The paradoxes are there as well: what's a whole culture of individualists who seem to cleave almost bindingly to tradition? Or the Lunars as a conquering collective that is (at least for the highest of Lunar devotees) all about individual ascendance beyond restriction? The Lunar philosophy seems to (at the high levels) recognize this paradox and plays around with it. Argrath seems to be doing something similar to the Orlanthi. I think any winners in this conflict will have come to uniquely understand their enemies and have been transformed themselves by the process. But again, I think there's more threads there than just individualism vs. unification.

Hrm, a bit long-winded here, but I think that's gets at it.

Edited by Grievous

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1 hour ago, Ufnal said:

Does that make sense at all? Is it a common (or commonly discredited) theory I never heard of?

It's certainly another way of classifying what happened. For example in King of Sartar the same cycles are called by Argarth as the coming of the Devil (every 600 years). But could easily be the end of Empires or any one of many other just as valid descriptions. Interestingly, none of the fledgling groups started out just to achieve what you have described. The First Council didn't start out wanting to make a god, the Godlearners started out as a trading empire, The lunar empire didn't start as a proselytising force.

58 minutes ago, Grievous said:

a polarity

Polarities are certainly part of these themes Nysalor / Arkat, Godlearners / Dragons, Red Godesss / Sheng Seleris. to name but a few.

 

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I was under the impression that individualism is alien to Glorantha, even the Orlanthi are Clan first. it is an 'us v them', never an 'I v them' :huh:

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One thing I observed is that in each of the ages, an area with an alternate magical property was started inside Glorantha, expanded, then collapsed into itself. The Bright Empire with its area where illumination was seen as a force for good vs those outside or unaccepting, fighting it head to toe. Both Arkat and Nysalor claimed to have fought Gbaji, and I think they were right - Gbaji being the mask between the two realms of magic.

The Imperial Age had the EWF dragon dream which altered its interior - gradually, not abruptly, as you entered the EWF, but with very weird draconic husbandry and plants in the core of the EWF. This dragon dream ended abruptly with the assassination of the EWF leaders and draconic thinkers who had not already ascended. The dragon entities turned back into ordinary cows and plants, or withered away.

The Third Age has the Silver Shadow and its magical expansion, the Glowline, creating a distinctly different magical reality inside vs. outside. By the end of the Hero Wars, there will be no Glowline, and only one shared magical reality. It will be neither the Red Moon nor Argrath's Reaching Storm reality.

Each age had the creation of a new god, and its destruction (Osentalka/Nysalor, Zistor, and Rufelza).

The God Learner RuneQuest Sight and other such effects did not create regional differences in magic, but it changed Gloranthan magic as a whole, twisting and bending it until it snapped (mostly) back. The experimentation did leave changes and scars.

 

Both Nysalor and the Red Goddess had their Other, Arkat and Sheng Seleris. Both Others got sent to Hell and liberated through the Lightbringers Quest (and more).

Every time, people or cults transcended the normal rules of the world. And every time, some cataclysms resulted.

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I've seen patterns like this between the ages and used it to develop my ideas for the fourth age, making it a mirror if the second age like the third one is a mirror of the first.

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On 1/9/2018 at 11:08 AM, Ufnal said:

Does that make sense at all? Is it a common (or commonly discredited) theory I never heard of?

It makes perfect sense to me. There are almost certainly other things at play, for example "Nobody can make me do anything", "Violence is always an option" and so on, reflecting the Orlanthi disrupting any Empire they find, but Unification vs Individuality makes a lot of sense.

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There's a resonance of past events (even those before Time) creating patterns of events. Some events are purely mythical (which in Glorantha means that mythic events tend to repeat) and those you can see in Glorantha. Some of the latter are relatively simple, such as the passage of the Sun through the Sky and Underworld every day; the Red Moon following its weekly cycle (and larger cycles); the passage and interaction of the planets and constellations, or particular events such as the passage of Orlanth's Ring through the Sky and Underworld, and what it interacts with on its way; the sequence of the Seasons (which map to the Mythic ages); the fact the movement of the heavenly bodies repeats every few centuries (except when it doesn't when planets or stars appear or vanish - always heralding major events). And each Age in Time maps onto Mythic Ages, with a similar increase in entropy as the magic gradually goes away.

Astrology in Glorantha probably follows the Babylonian model, of correlating events on Earth with events in the Sky - 'so above, so below' - as the Sky is inhabited by deities of every sort - and in Glorantha this is true.

So Sky Gazers in Yuthuppa and Kralorela are doubtless studying the Sky, and getting really scared as the Hero Wars unfold, because of what they are seeing, and what they are not. And senior Lunars probably expect the Eighth Wane to duplicate the First, with mounting energy, and new threats such as a new Dara Happan revolt and a new Jannisor in the south... but, he seems to have arrived ahead of schedule...

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