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Heroes to Superheroes

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So what makes a Hero a Superhero?

What do those individuals in Glorantha said to be "Superheroes" have or what have they done to be identified as such?

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Just now, Martin said:

So what makes a Hero a Superhero?

What do those individuals in Glorantha said to be "Superheroes" have or what have they done to be identified as such?

Superhero is an obsolete term that hasn't been used for quite a while.

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It is, however, used in the Dragon Pass game and Arcane Lore.

Looking at Third Age SuperHeroes, we have Harrek, Jar-Eel and Androgeus. Earlier, Yanafal Tarnils was described as a SuperHero. In the First Age, Arkat was a SuperHero.

In Dragon Pass, I think it says that a SuperHero has mastered the Infinity Rune, so can warp magic and force around, granting some invulnerability to magic/damage. It may be broader than that, so a SuperHero may well have gained more than one Rune, in the same way that a Deity is associated with Runes. So, a Hero may well master one Rune, but a SuperHero has mastered multiple Runes.

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Demigods are normally born from a god and a mortal, or are minor gods.

Pavis was a demigod, as he was a Hero who became a god.

In my Glorantha, demigods and gods/goddesses are such because they are worshipped. You might get a very minor Hero who goes on a HeroQuest and comes back with a new skill or spell that is then taught to others, that makes the Hero a demigod. The Hero probably gets worshipped as a subcult in a main cult, perhaps even at a single shrine.

A demigod, rather than a Hero, may get worshipped at several locations, so Pavis is worshipped in and around the city of Pavis, but has several temples.shrines.

In terms of the Compromise, I think that Demigods are bound by the Compromise, but Heroes and SuperHeroes are not. So, a Hero who binds himself/herself to the Compromise by weaving a place and accepting the place of others becomes a Demigod. Normally, such a Demogod cannot act in the world, or actions are severly limited, so Cragspider is a Demigoddess and her actions are now limited, so she is not the HeroQuester that she was. However, in the Hero Wars, the Compromise has been broken and Demigods, Demigoddess, Gods and Goddesses are free to act again.

 

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2 hours ago, soltakss said:

Demigods are normally born from a god and a mortal, or are minor gods.

Pavis was a demigod, as he was a Hero who became a god.

In my Glorantha, demigods and gods/goddesses are such because they are worshipped. You might get a very minor Hero who goes on a HeroQuest and comes back with a new skill or spell that is then taught to others, that makes the Hero a demigod. The Hero probably gets worshipped as a subcult in a main cult, perhaps even at a single shrine.

A demigod, rather than a Hero, may get worshipped at several locations, so Pavis is worshipped in and around the city of Pavis, but has several temples.shrines.

In terms of the Compromise, I think that Demigods are bound by the Compromise, but Heroes and SuperHeroes are not. So, a Hero who binds himself/herself to the Compromise by weaving a place and accepting the place of others becomes a Demigod. Normally, such a Demogod cannot act in the world, or actions are severly limited, so Cragspider is a Demigoddess and her actions are now limited, so she is not the HeroQuester that she was. However, in the Hero Wars, the Compromise has been broken and Demigods, Demigoddess, Gods and Goddesses are free to act again.

 

This smells of God Learnerism 😉

I think the terms are regional and interchangeable, one community's hero is another's god who could be a demon to someone else...

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3 hours ago, soltakss said:

It is, however, used in the Dragon Pass game and Arcane Lore.

Looking at Third Age SuperHeroes, we have Harrek, Jar-Eel and Androgeus. Earlier, Yanafal Tarnils was described as a SuperHero. In the First Age, Arkat was a SuperHero.

In Dragon Pass, I think it says that a SuperHero has mastered the Infinity Rune, so can warp magic and force around, granting some invulnerability to magic/damage. It may be broader than that, so a SuperHero may well have gained more than one Rune, in the same way that a Deity is associated with Runes. So, a Hero may well master one Rune, but a SuperHero has mastered multiple Runes.

Probably not 'official' but (IIRC) Sandy suggested that each SuperHero was the embodiment of a particular Rune (Harrek with Death, Jar-Eel with Harmony etc.), but I guess they would have to Master the Infinity Rune too? So it might be the other way round, a Hero has multiple Runes they are very good at and then they Master one particular one?

And probably also involved is their base of support from Worshipers, as well as their mythic restrictions and obligations (the latter from Andrew Jones' recent scoop on Google+). I'm looking forward the RuneQuest GamesMaster's Book when hopefully all will be revealed! 

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When I spoke to Greg about this, back in the day, I recall he said that mortals are not stuck in their ways, while Gods are pretty much "cemented in with adamantium rebar".  Mortals are able to change, and that means that when they grow in power, they can retain their individuality.  As worshipers of deities strive to become more like their deities, they often lose their individuality in the process until they are ossified clones of the entities they worship... but not always.  Sometimes they take a detour that sets them on a novel path that is sufficiently unlike the normal trajectory of a known power that they come to symbolize something new.  Lets look at some case studies:

Arkat/Nysalor:

Born from a cosmic egg as a result of a mortal compact to create a deity that will unite the world, Nysalor's birth is heralded by the Sunstop.  Is the world broken?  No, but it isn't good.   How do we interpret this?  Chaos?  Energy Debt?  While Nysalor seems legit, as the reach of his empire and the first council extends, it corrupts and ultimately wakes up Nysalors equal and opposite force, Arkat, who is in all ways Nysalor's shadow.  Arkat uses the loopholes created by Nysalor's spiritual teaching to exploit all the magic the world has to offer like a "good illuminate".  When they face their final battle, Arkat is the one who emerges, and creates a Dark Empire to rival and counterbalance all Nysalor's efforts, before it too eventually peters out.

Delecti:

Ostensibly a Jrusteli Sorcerer who defected to the EWF, Delecti is a weird one.  Was he a double agent or a triple agent, or merely a defector?  What we do know is that he set about becoming the Dr. Moreau of Genertela, creating varieties of horrible but not chaotic beast men, including fauns and satyrs, who while effectively goat men, with all the randy appetites of goat men, are not broos.  Delecti is still mortal when the Dragonkill takes place, and he is one of the very few human survivors (the Cannon Cult being another example) who remain in Dragon Pass after that event, in the ruins of the EWF capital no less.  After that, he takes to making undead.

Ironhoof:

Hero centaur of Beast Valley, and a creation and enemy of Delecti, Ironhoof grows in magical power and seeks to make the imperfect beast men that Delecti created into something other than deformed victims of perverse sorcerous vivisection and agonizing chimerical experimentation.  Ironhoof manages to succeed, and becomes the leader of the Beastmen, who are redeemed by his efforts.

Red Moon Goddess:

In God Time, Rashorana was a delinquent minor deity in the Yelm Pantheon who, rather than join another pantheon wound up getting stripped of her powers by the Unholy Trio and cast into the hells as a broken entity, a bit like Horse.  Eventually Rashorana is reborn as Teelo Estara, who is naturally Illuminated, and becomes the focus of the 7 Mothers ritual.  Thus from a mortal she becomes a hero, then a super hero, then a deity after the Battle of Castle Blue.  She also reincarnates herself as Imperial Wane Heroines such as Hon-Eel, Hwarain Dalthippa etc, the lastes of whom is Jar-Eel the Razoress.  Rashorana is seen as being an equivalent deity to Nysalor, and is also a deity birthed in time.

Argrath:

The fact that the Red Moon Goddess is effectively a rebirthed Nysalor activates the same karma as Nysalor, and thus Argrath is generated in place of Arkat to reinstate the Compromise and bring the world back to ossified order.  Argrath too is a mortal who climbs the ladder to superhero.  Go read "King of Dragon Pass" if you don't know his story in excruciating detail yet.

Pavis:

Pavis was only ever a hero, born of an odd "Lets bring back the Green Age" Conspiracy which saw him born of the blood of pretty much all the Elder Races except for the Dragonewts,  he subsequently corrected this by going to train with the EWF and learnt how to become more dragon-like.  We currently don't know whether Pavis is dead or alive, but we do know that the Big Rubble is a very interesting place, and that Argrath really begins the Orlanthi counter-offensive from there, twice.  Once after the Cradle , and again after his return with the Wolf Pirates.  Was this merely because the city was at the end of a supply line that was just too long and expressed a failure of Lunar policy, or was something deeper at work?


As to the whole Hero/Superhero debate smacking of God Learnerism, well of course.  The God Learners were correct.  The God Learners had more heroes than anybody, and the 4th Age will herald their return, and Jrustela will rise from the oceans again and a new Sorcerous Empire will achieve Lozengial Dominance.  After the death of Literacy, the counter-reaction will be unprecedented scholastic acceleration, as generations starved of knowledge sate themselves from the Communication Web of Arachne Solara, but perverse Vadeli magic will harness chaos to inflict the hideous mutation of the eye-phone on the new Lozengial market.

 

 

Edited by Darius West
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Mastering the Infinity Rune the only option?  I think not as harrek is a superhero and he has instead mastered Death...but I am more thinking what magical things can mortals do that makes them gain the identifaction of superhero?  are they imune to non magical dmage, live forever, never age? ofr is it some cool things associated with the Rune they focus upon?

Edited by Martin
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From what I understand, superheroes are a whole step further than heroes. Strictly speaking, there are very few of them. Androgeus for instance is more a cosmic monster or demigod who degraded to a power level similar to a superhero than a superhero in the regular sense.

Harrek and Jar-eel are the real thing, and so was Arkat, and probably Elamle Ata and maybe Tada, maybe Sheng. I used to think that Hon-eel was a superheroine, too, but I no longer think so.

"Mastery of the Infinity Rune" is a way to describe a direct "uplink" to the Absolute, the ability to draw upon that, overriding all other magic that only comes indirectly, through runes. It is an ability shared by True Dragons and possibly Ascended Mystics. And Androgeus.

Even so, each superhero has a core rune which expresses his or her nature. Sandy elaborated on that at his Kraken seminars, and while not everything Sandy says conforms with current canon, Sandy is one of the creators of significant parts of Glorantha. And, like Greg and the folk around Jeff, he is on a journey of discovery that hasn't ended yet. Sometimes an insight carries a literal truth, sometimes it is just a concept that needs more exploration, but it would be wrong to simply dismiss those remarks. Plenty other now canonical facts started out with what now are clearly non-canonical statements.

Take the Thawing of the Syndics' Ban in Fronela. Dormal's Opening Journey contributed to it by opening Loskalm coming across the Sea, where no such barriers of mist extended. The Lunar expedition of infants including Jar-eel and Harrek's journeys after awakening contributed across those impassable borders, and (in case of the Lunars) along them. Androgeus may have been in the region, too. It is my impression that these three characters had a lot to do with weakening the Ban further, and unifying parts of the land before they reconnected with the parts of the land connected to the outside of the Ban. Androgeus may very well be the agent for the Thaw around Charg.

Capital H Heroes are a rare breed, too, with those in the Dragon Pass boardgame probably making up more than a third of such entities throughout Glorantha in the early Hero Wars era. Unlike in the Imperial Age, for most of these their support is no longer organized by a state support (still so: The Red Emperor, formerly so: Renvald Meldekbane and Varankol the Mangler). They may drag destiny along with them, too, becoming the icons they get worshipped as, reinforcing their patterns sometimes to a point where they get railwayed.

Worship, whether supportive or propiative, is what feeds the heroes, Heroes, and Superheroes, and it defines them in many aspects.

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Iskallor said:

I thought all you needed was a cool cape.

I've never met a Superhero myself, but certain fellows at the department at feasts insisted that the Infinity Rune manifests as a stretchy, colorful full-body garment of unearthly mien.

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1 hour ago, Iskallor said:

I thought all you needed was a cool cape.

As Edna says in the Incredibles, "No capes!" 😉 

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Does a bear god fur count as a cape?

Otherwise, no full body armor. Whether boobs or man-boobs, superheroes follow the bikini chainmail rules in Glorantha.

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1 hour ago, Iskallor said:

I thought all you needed was a cool cape.

It's his cloak. (Joerg beats me to it.)

Who do we know with the Infinity rune that didn't come up via Mastery? Is Mastery the signifier of "Hero?"



 

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Yep, I've always heard the Infinity Rune. 

Metcalph:  Much as I know Jeff hates the term, Superheroes came out of the box quite literally over 40 years ago and nobody but a few at the top want to put them back in.

Darius:  "perverse" Vadeli magic?!?  Perversity is in the eye-phone of the beholder.

Jeorg:  Why don't you think of Hon-Eel as a Superhero?  She seems more powerful that Jar-Eel.

 

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5 hours ago, Pentallion said:

Metcalph:  Much as I know Jeff hates the term, Superheroes came out of the box quite literally over 40 years ago and nobody but a few at the top want to put them back in.

Many terms have come and gone in glorantha (misapplied magic etc) and have not been missed.  Superhero by my reckoning has been used in three or four texts 1) White Bear and Red Moon/Dragon Pass 2) RuneQuest 2 3) Arcane Lore and 4) the Redline History.  

White Bear and Red Moon was over forty years ago.

Arcane Lore is a collection of documents some of which are quite old.  It useful as an archeology of Greg's thinking throughout the ages more than anything else.

The RuneQuest 2 rules mention is the Infinity Rune.  It is described there as being "characteristic of gods, superheroes, and dragons only." (RQ2 p58).  This text has been reused in HeroQuest Glorantha where it now reads "characteristic of gods, True Dragons, and those whose consciousness knows no limitations." (HQG p18).  I daresay the description in the RQG will read the same.

The Redline History mentions Yanafal Tarnils as a Superhero.  The updated version in the Glorantha Sourcebook does not.

As for people wanting to use the term superhero, I really have not seen a meaningful use for it nor have I seen anybody bothering to use it outside the question "Wot's a superhero?".  Hence its usefulness is poor and that coupled with the wider associations of the term means that it will be one of the first things to go when Thanos snaps his fingers.

 

 

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3 hours ago, metcalph said:

As for people wanting to use the term superhero, I really have not seen a meaningful use for it nor have I seen anybody bothering to use it outside the question "Wot's a superhero?". 

Demigod seems the preferred modern term (even in Classical mythology, the term can refer to a minor deity, a mortal who is the offspring of a god and a human, or a hero who has attained divine status after death).

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22 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

Woody. Aldryan superhero????

A lot we don't know about what Errinoru did in the sky, "infinity and beyond" indeed.

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If you were a backer of the RQ Classic kickstarter of Rune-lord Priest or higher, you got:

Quote

The Runequest Playtest Manuscript book - is a 250+ page hardcover book created from high resolution scans of the original playtest manuscript. This manuscript is the only known set of playtest notes in existence which were lovingly kept in a binder for the last 40 years. This playtest material was used to create the first edition of RuneQuest. It includes newly written introductory essays by Steve Perrin and Greg Stafford.

and in within the hand typed pages

Quote

The game is called RUNEQUEST because a crucial part of the attempt to become a Hero was the attempt to earn a Rune. Runes are not the " sources" of power in and around Lunar Empire on the continent of Genertelia. However, a Rune is the symbol of the knowledge of and identity with a Rune leads to influence over elements, forms, conditions, and powers. Virtually every facet of life is tied to a Rune. The identification of self with Rune is a milestone along the Hero's Trail.

Mastery (a Rune in itself) of a Rune is not the only criteria for becoming a Hero, but it is the first step. It is a long and hard step. Many more fall and die than succeed even to that level. Even after Rune Mastery, Doom rides at the shoulder of the Rune Quester. The chance shot, the lucky coincidence, all play a part.

So how do you become a Hero? Come away with us on the RuneQuest Trail. The answer may lie at the other end.

Later the Progression of characters, tells us that adventures become either Rune Lords or Rune Mages and may then become the other if they wish. The Rune Mage becomes a Rune Master and the Rune Lord becomes a Hero:

Quote

Rune Mage - Journeyman Status magician in one of the Runes, capable of identity with the Rune, leader of men, etc.

Rune Lord - Master of five weapons, Leader of Men, Possesses iron armor and weapons. Usually has a number of magical items.

The Hero and Rune Master are as demi-gods, the penultimate attainment of Mastery in their fields.

There are a few other mention in the Table of contents (but no info) Upper Magic is what we call Rune Magic.

Quote

Chapter VII - Further progression

A. Background on how one gains statue in this world

B. How One advances as a fighter

     1. Weapon Master .

     2. Rune Lord - enchanting the Rune Weapon...

     3. Hero

     4. Super Hero

C. How One advances as a Mage

     1. Rune initiate - How to join a Rune Cult

     2. Rune Magician [...] Upper Magic Spells

     3. Rune Wizards

          a. Researching Upper Magic Specialty Spells

          b. Pursuing fighting skills

          c. Use of Mana

     4. Hero status

     5. Superhero status. the rejection of Upper Magic to embrace infinity

There is an implied idea that when you have mastered a rune, you can make up your own Upper magic and don't need a god to help.

Bear in mind this is a from 1977 before RQ was published, lots of stuff changed, fortunately we don't have the Upper Magic Spells of Summon Colossal Elemental (4pts), or the Sun Dome Temples magic of Sun Lance, Enverate and Sun call any more - we have way better names.

I'm also reminded that someone said that Sandy said there could only be one hero/super hero per rune...

Edited by David Scott
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The term is tied to a  hero exerting mystical domination of the magical energies around them on the level of a fully enlightened mystic or a True Dragon. Few capital H heroes have such an ability.

It isn't clear when and how this "mastery of the Infinity Rune" is achieved. It may be a mystical experience, or it may be an innate ability, possibly triggered by some event. Given Harrek straying through separated parts of the Ban, he may have possessed this as a latent ability long before he slew and bound the White Bear spirit, and Jar-eel's presence in the Lunar Thawing expedition may be an indication of an abiity she had at least from her birth onward.

 

I agree about the bad associations with Marvel or DC superheroes, and that another name for this category of supra-heroic individuals would be desirable. They remain a category in themselves for purposes of strategic boardgames at least, however, so I am careful not to ditch the concept before seeing the new edition of Dragon Pass in print.

 

Speaking of which, there were numerous articles in support of those boardgames in Wyrm's Footnotes, also some with Greg defending the exceptional power of these units.

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15 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Demigod seems the preferred modern term (even in Classical mythology, the term can refer to a minor deity, a mortal who is the offspring of a god and a human, or a hero who has attained divine status after death).

It doesn't work as a replacement for Superhero because the Guide describes the following non-superheroes as demigods:

  • A Great Tree p65
  • The Luatha p139
  • Cragspider p170
  • Ironhoof p171
  • Gold Wheel Dancers p189
  • The Red Emperor (HQG p19)

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8 hours ago, Joerg said:

It isn't clear when and how this "mastery of the Infinity Rune" is achieved.

HeroQuest Glorantha describes Illumination in this term and that seems likely to be carried over into RuneQuest Glorantha.  Hence I do not believe Superherohood to be related to the Infinity Rune given that Argrath and the Red Emperor are illuminated but not superheroes.

8 hours ago, Joerg said:

They remain a category in themselves for purposes of strategic boardgames at least, however, so I am careful not to ditch the concept before seeing the new edition of Dragon Pass in print.

It is a category in ONE strategic board-game.

8 hours ago, Joerg said:

Speaking of which, there were numerous articles in support of those boardgames in Wyrm's Footnotes, also some with Greg defending the exceptional power of these units.

Greg was referring to hero units in general, not just superheroes.

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