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Bohemond

Chalanan Heroquest

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I'm working on a Chalana Arroy heroquest, and since this forum did a great job helping me work the kinks out of an Odalyan heroquest, I thought I'd see if people could help me with this one. 

Here's the set-up: I'm running the Red Cow campaign, and one PC is a Chalanan. They discovered a place in the Staglands that is conducive to healing magic (basically +3 to healing magic tests). So Eindred (the Chalanan) wants to establish a shrine to Chalana Arroy there. (He's working on a way to keep the shrine safe, so we don't need to deal with that problem). He's thinking about doing a heroquest to prove that this spot is the place where Chalana Arroy performed one of her feats, the Hundred Healing, which I think is a nice use of a heroquest to strength the connection between a place and a specific myth. 
 

One of the problems that I think Chalanan quests run into is finding a way to make healing and peacemaking interesting in game terms. Healing is largely abstracted as a roll on the Harmony rune, so we need to add things to the framework or else the healing roll seems boring and mechanical. So that's one of the things I'm trying to accomplish here. 

Here's what I've got so far in terms of a myth: 
 

The Hundred Healing

            During the Lesser Darkness, when the Sun was dead but Chaos had not yet entered the world, Chalana the Peacemaker traveled the world, seeking to bring healing and peace to a world rocked with violence and feuding. 

            Once, she came upon a dying man. With her soothing hands, she tended his wounds and saved him from death. While he was still weak, he told her that his people, the Red Wolves, had a mortal enemy, the Green Bears, who hated them because they were jealous that the Red Wolves hunted in packs while the Green Bears had to hunt alone. The Green Bears agreed that they would work together just once to kill the Red Wolves, and they had found him and forced him to tell them where they could find the Red Wolf tula, so that they could slaughter all the Red Wolves. He was too weak to warn his people, and so he begged her to find them and warn them. Chalana agreed that it was good to protect people from unexpected violence, and so she said that she would. 

            She followed his directions, although the way was not easy, and eventually she came to the Red Wolf tula. It was too late to warn them, because the Green Bears had already begun their attack. There were many who were dying.

            Chalana the Healer could not stand by and allow the injured to die. So she healed the wounded that she found. The Green Bears saw what she was doing and told her “You must stop healing the Red Wolves, because we want them to die. They have been our enemies for generations. If you do not stop healing them, we will kill you.”

            But Chalana the Calmer was unafraid and refused to stop her work. She said, “I do not heal them because your claim has no merit. I heal them because all life is precious and I cannot bear to see it end. Death roams the world and it will devour Life until there is none left if we do not do all we can to keep Life in the world. If you kill me, there will be no one left to stop Death when it comes from you.” And the Green Bear chieftain was ashamed of what he had said and lost his will to kill her.

             Soon the Red Wolves were strong enough to fight back, and they attacked the Green Bears. Because the Green Bears were unaccustomed to fighting as a pack, the Red Wolves began to turn the tide, and soon there were many Green Bears dying and the Red Wolves were mocking their enemies.

            But Chalana the Healer could not stand by and allow the injured to die. So she healed the wounded Green Bears that she found. The Red Wolf chieftain saw what she was doing and told her, “You must stop healing the Green Bears, because we want them to die. They have attacked us when we have done nothing against them. It is wrong to heal those who attacked us without provocation. If you do not stop healing them, we will kill you.”

            But Chalana the Calmer was unafraid and refused to stop her work. “I have come to heal all who need it, and I did not heal you because I wished for you to win this fight. I healed you because every death makes the Darkness around us deeper and stronger, and I have pledged to bring light into the Darkness. If you kill me, there will be no one left to heal you when you need it.” And the Red Wolf chieftain was ashamed of what he had said and lost his will to kill her. 

            And so as the Green Bears and the Red Wolves fought, Chalana the Healer healed the wounded on both sides, until she had healed one hundred warriors and none had died. Finally the Green Bear chieftain said to her, “Every time we defeat one of the Red Wolves, you heal him so that he may continue fighting us. They outnumber us and we cannot win this fight.” And the Red Wolf chieftain said, “The Green Bears are much stronger than us. One of their warriors can fight three of ours. Every time we defeat one, you heal him so that he may continue fighting us. We cannot win this fight.”

            Chalana the Peacemaker said, “Then if neither of you can win this fight, why are you still fighting? If you cannot win and cannot lose, you waste your efforts. The wise leader should find a way to resolve this.” The two chieftains saw that there was no point in continuing the struggle, and so they asked her “How can we make peace? There has been enmity between us for generations?” 

            And Chalana the Peacemaker showed them that there was no need to fight each other at all. 

So my myth tries to provide a framework of stations that aren't all just 'heal the person'. A couple of the stations are (heal the first guy, heal the Red Wolves, heal the Green Bears) but she also needs to resist two efforts to intimidate her. I think the last healing is more of an endurance test, to find the energy to continue amidst the violence. And then she has to make peace by showing them that they don't need to fight. 

What I'm struggling with is two-fold. 1) the myth feels more like a folk-tale than a Gloranthan myth. It doesn't have any of the strange myth-logic that we find in the myths in KoDP (other than wolves and bears fighting and having to peace-make, which I stole from Issaries the Conciliator--when I run it, they will be literal animals). I'd like to make sure that it has a distinctly Gloranthan feel to it, but I'm not coming up with very much. Any thoughts about how to make it a bit more Gloranthan in its flavor?

A second thing I'm wrestling with is that it's very linear. It has a very Do Thing 1, then Do Thing 2 feeling to it. Obviously myths are linear narratives as told, but I'd like to work in the HQ principle that heroquests don't always follow linear order, sometimes have metaphorical rather than literal stations, and so on. But once the quester gets to the fight, I don't see any way to vary the sequence of events or make them metaphorical without things getting really bizarre and abstract. For example, one suggested curveball for heroquests is to have the stations out of order or have a station missing, and I can't see a way to do that. Since this group of players is a bit novice (the Chalanan is totally new to Glorantha), I don't want things to get totally bizarre, but I would like have a decent curveball to offer them. Any ideas?

Edited by Bohemond
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12 minutes ago, Bohemond said:

For example, one suggested curveball for heroquests is to have the stations out of order or have a station missing, and I can't see a way to do that.

One thought: Sophie's Choice (i.e. based on the book/movie) - what does the Healer do when two equally important beings are simultaneously dying?  Which does she heal and which does she sacrifice?

Another thought:  a third party.  Spirits of Disease or scavengers (i.e. Hyena, Vulture, uz) show up to infect and grow with the dying, or to feast off the dying.  Chalana Arroy has a vow not to harm another, but how will the healer respond?

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That third party idea is a good one. It's exactly the sort of detail that might get left out of a myth that will create uncertainty for the PC about how to handle it. Thanks!

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This is a great myth. If for some personal reason you feel the need to keep refining it I think the best Gloranthan mythology makes a kind of argument about the way the people who tell the story choose to live. 

Within Chalana, the lesson many need to accept is that the world will always be sicker than you have healing spell slots. You can work with dozens in one day, even heal 100 and they'll keep fighting. You will never win.

The only way out of the cycle is to heal the "cycle of violence" itself through some transcendental gesture. At a certain point -- 98 healed, 99 healed, 101 healed -- even the most idealistic initiate has to absorb that there has got to be a higher and yet more pragmatic way. Red needs to become Green and Green needs to become Red. Then they're all friends and while We Fought, the new larger I Wins.  You heal the problem of there being too many (engendering disputes and violence) by overcoming difference and making them closer to one people . . . the harmony rune in action.

 If you can do this, you probably get more than the +3 that happened at this site. You get a new spell like Harmonize. Maybe it spreads.

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2 hours ago, Bohemond said:

That third party idea is a good one. It's exactly the sort of detail that might get left out of a myth that will create uncertainty for the PC about how to handle it. Thanks!

Thinking a bit further on that line, the ultimate test of Chalana Arroy is whether she chooses Harmony to the world or Loyalty to someone/something within the world.  I think this is the climactic point:  News reaches her on the battlefield that Arroin (her son) or the White God Zenfel (her father?) or possibly her entire clan (the White Camp) is dying (of a wound inflicted by X - Umath if her father/clan).  She can stay and achieve peace/harmony between the Red Wolves and the Green Bears, or she can depart to save Arroin (or Zenfel/White Camp).  She cannot do both.    

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Doesn't have to be Bears and Wolves. I'd keep it simple, in some ways. Have the Chalanan rock up in the middle of a fight between two warbands and start healing the injured. Sooner or later he will run out of magic and the HeroQuest can provide the rune Points to keep casting. Maybe the HeroQuest sucks Rune Points from the healed and uses them to heal the opposing clan. How strong is the "Never kill a Chalana Arroy Healer" taboo? maybe this is a good way to find out.

You could do some preparatory work, to find a way to get the healed people to power the healing, or power the healing by the blood spilled. That would be a nice abaility to get from the HeroQuest.

It might work if the clans involved are known to the Healer, perhaps his own clan and a rival, or two different rival clans. 

Having to make choices is fine. Having to make impossible choices is less so. Finding a way to get around the impossible choice is really good and is what HeroQuesting is for. So, if you do have to choose between Healing the Warbands and saving home Clan, then find a way to do both. That's what Heroes do. As a GM, I wouldn't try to think of how the Healer can do this, that is the Players' job. All you need to do is to frame the situation and see how they solve it.

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My thought in reading it was that it was very much in the vein of Amerind myth-tales (not a bad thing at all, as many Praxian HQ's tend to play out similarly).  However, since CA is a Lightbringer, you might bring some more Heortling/Orlanthi concepts into it.

Say, for instance, that one of the combatants of either side (or both sides) is killed before she gets there and can heal them, and there's the complication of weregeld added to the peace negotiations.  Or perhaps there's some kind of tie-in with Hsunchen, with ancestors of the Telmori and/or Rathori involved.  Maybe Eurmal shows up to throw a wrench into things.

Edited by Yelm's Light

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Note that Chalanna Arroy healed the "blindness" of Yelmalio (his own prideful brightness) and he became Elmal.

Every injury has a metaphorical psychic/emotional counterpart. The vendetta that keeps the two sides fighting is itself a shared wound that resists healing: the anger/vengeance spirits act as an infection. CA needs to show the two sides that the original state of harmony existed, and that it was better. They have forgotten what is like to not be sick.

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You’ve definitely got something here. Bear in mind in. Heroquest it can often be difficult to identify encounters. The red wolves might appear as warriors with wolf helmets, or red warpaint, etc. Are they the red wolves or one of the possible third parties?

How to heal hundred warriors? Perhaps she enchanted a pool or stream, or a rock and washed each warrior, or placed the rock (huge boulder in the real world) on his chest to heal him, thus the site became blessed.

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Why not add a trickster? Who stirred up the fight? Perhaps Trickster’s penance is to protect the new shrine from those who mean it harm - maybe even a trickster guard, creating a shrine which is both a place of healing and a place where trickster magic is especially strong.

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51 minutes ago, EricW said:

Why not add a trickster? Who stirred up the fight? Perhaps Trickster’s penance is to protect the new shrine from those who mean it harm - maybe even a trickster guard, creating a shrine which is both a place of healing and a place where trickster magic is especially strong.

Tricksters are always good fun. Perhaps the Trickster started the fight just so Chalana Arroy could heal them and also heal the rift between the clans. Tricky folk are Tricksters.

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She is healing the wounded from a great battle against Darkness (or any other enemy but Chaos). She heals and heals and the wounded keep coming at an in increasing rate. The answer is to heal the enemy - and so creating peace between the two sides. 

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Really good myth.  I would steal it if any of my players ever played a CA.  I agree with jeffjerwin.  The "aha!" moment is realizing that the real sickness is the need for vengeance.  Then healing that.  And theres no spell to do that.  Its not a mechanical solution.  Only roleplaying solves it.

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