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MHanretty

Real-World Chronology of Glorantha Concepts

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I'm a fairly new visitor to the world of Glorantha (I've just bought a copy of King of Sartar and am reading it alongside the .pdf of The Glorantha Sourcebook) but I'm just as fascinated with the development of the mythology as I am with the mythology itself.

Is there any resource which lists all of the concepts introduced with each Glorantha release? For example, was Argrath introduced in White Bear and Red Moon? Did Arkat exist as a concept before the introduction of Argrath? Is the former a retcon designed to lend more weight to the latter? These are the kind of things I'm interested in.  

 

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Whilst it would be an interesting exercise in archeology, it would be hard to accomplish, because only those who have access to Greg's unpublished materials (Chaosium) could really track everything, and then I think dates etc. are unclear from those. Much of it is hand-written, partial note form etc.

Before anyone asks about access to that material, it is chaotic, and Moon Design Publications put much of it into the Guide. Some notes influence products. For example some material made it into The Coming Storm based on Greg's campaign notes about the organization of Orlanthi households, steads etc. I am sure some other pieces will leak into future items.

It might be useful to trace idea paths. For example, the Orlanthi in early RQ are 'barbarians' and seem to be mostly generic fantasy 'barbarians', think Conan, but with a nod to the Greek notion of the barbarian Celts of Europe. Cults of Prax has them at one remove, but the mythology of Orlanth and the Lightbringers gain seems European Iron Age influenced. Later in RQ3 the Orlanthi look a little more like the Germanic tribes of Dark Ages Europe, and notes from Greg's house campaign have clear Anglo-Saxon influences on the Orlanthi social structure. Beowulf seems to be the heroic myth. By the time of Hero Wars (Thunder Rebels) they roll back, and the presentation there includes a lot of Urnfield culture elements, which bleed into Halstatt and Le Tene and the Celts. The Tain becomes just as influential as a heroic myth for them. So we return to early Iron Age and Bronze Age. HeroQuest Glorantha continued that move of the Orlanthi influences away from the Atlantic coast towards Central Europe and Greece, and the Illiad rears its head as an influence. (Mainly due to a perception that distance in Glorantha placed them quite close to the Neo-Babylonian influenced Dara Happan  and Persian influenced Carmanian cultures).

Personally, I think a blend of Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age cultures from across Europe works well, as relying too heavily on any single cultural influence tends to make them analogues. Some of the history here relates to who the creative leads were at any given time. Greg has long had an interest in the British Dark Ages, due to his interest in Arthur, so it was natural that he might reach for that early on. Later authors tried to model the principle that Glorantha was Bronze Age more  explicitly.

BTW, talking of Argrath/Arkat. I guess you pick up the hint that Argrath=Arkat=Arthur. Arthur himself is an Argrath I think, a different one to Glorantha's, but I think in the story of Argrath, Greg was playing with similar tropes and ideas.

 

 

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50 minutes ago, MHanretty said:

 Did Arkat exist as a concept before the introduction of Argrath? Is the former a retcon designed to lend more weight to the latter? 

Argrath first appeared in White Bear and Red Moon, the boardgame which was later released as Dragon Pass.  First published in 1975 (although writting down sometime before then).

Arkat' is first mentioned in Cults of Prax, published 1978 (p116 of the PDF)

The story I've heard is that Greg wrote Argrath's story, forgot about it and then wrote a similar outline of Arkat.  

 

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1 hour ago, MHanretty said:

Is there any resource which lists all of the concepts introduced with each Glorantha release? For example, was Argrath introduced in White Bear and Red Moon? Did Arkat exist as a concept before the introduction of Argrath? Is the former a retcon designed to lend more weight to the latter? These are the kind of things I'm interested in.  

No resource that lists all of that.

You might find it interesting to read what Greg has said about the origins of Glorantha here: http://www.staffordcodex.com/overview/

For those of us who have gathered Glorantha material over the years, the initial concepts we were aware of were either provided in WB&RM or in RuneQuest.  Dragon Pass, Sartar and the Lunar Empire, immense dragons, the Hero Wars with Harrek and Jar-eel, Argrath and the Red Emperor, Cragspider and Sir Ethilrist, … were all part of the initial 'concepts'.  Orlanth and Kyger Litor appear in RQ.  Prax and the beast riders, Pavis and the Big Rubble appear in Nomad Gods, then Cults of Prax.  Chaos and the chaotic monsters such as the Crimson Bat, broo and Cwim appeared in WB&RM, Nomad Gods, a bit in RQ, but then in more detail in Snakepipe Hollow, and particularly Cults of Terror.  Cults of Terror revealed the struggle between Arkat and Nysalor/Gbaji, and the Uz Lore book in Trollpack brought the first detailed history.  The pantheons of the gods were detailed in the later Wyrms Footnotes, as was the History of the Lunar Empire.  The deep nature of the dragons and the dragonewts was in Wyrms Footnotes 14.  Dwarves and the World Machine were detailed in an article in Different Worlds magazine called "Why I Hate the Mostali".  RQ had the first world map, but we didn't have many details on many areas until the Genertela book.  King of Sartar was the first full writing on Argrath in the Hero Wars, the fall of the Lunar Empire/Red Moon, and more details on Orlanthi culture.  

From Greg's efforts at trying to define the background of the Lunar Empire sprang the books about the Dara Happans (Glorious ReAscent of Yelm and Fortunate Succession) and then the Pelandan myths (Entekosiad), and then some other unpublished Lunar material.  Revealed Mythologies provides the deeper insights into Western, Eastern, and Pamaltelan myths.

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3 hours ago, MHanretty said:

just as fascinated with the development of the mythology as I am with the mythology itself

Love it. The short answer is "not yet" but maybe if you have some free time we can start putting something together. While Greg Himself didn't keep a lot of precise diachronic notes there's no reason not to compile what we do have. It's a worthy tribute to his achievement, provided of course that's something he'd want.

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Greg told how he had that Arkat stories when he made White Bear and Red Moon, and that he changed the name to Argrath for that game.

Writings on the Gloranthan West predate the publication of WBRM. Thus the list of the Ralian gods in the Guide shows a time before the Theyalan gods were realized.

IIRC, the first story may have been of Snodal, in Loskalm.

 

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1 minute ago, Joerg said:

changed the name to Argrath for that game

(all out of reactions for the day)

Greg associates the origin of "Argat" [sic] and the apocalyptic Gbaji struggle with an early health crisis well before WBRM. Several of my key sources on the internal chronology are in transition right now but if my recall is accurate this is maybe early 1968 -- after Snodal, Jonat, Froalar and Hrestol but before the move to California. Ralios, Seshnela, Brithos and to some extent Fronela already exist in more or less recognizable form, back when the world was Acos. "Argrath" of course comes with the game counter and then when the West is reattached a separate "Arkat" finally emerges.

What's striking in this context is how little time actually separates the earliest material from the fanzines and then WBRM. The 1966-74 period must've seemed like an eternity of slow development for him then but in retrospect it's "only" eight years of fairly compressed development. He was moving fast!

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14 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

What's striking in this context is how little time actually separates the earliest material from the fanzines and then WBRM. The 1966-74 period must've seemed like an eternity of slow development for him then but in retrospect it's "only" eight years of fairly compressed development. He was moving fast!

There are astonishing amounts of detail for the God Learner period, presumably all from stories following some of Greg's heroes. I suspect that characters like Halwal or Avalor have at least story outlines or fragments similar in style to Aftal the Waertagi.

I wonder when the Praxians developed from the Barbarian Horde or Jaldon, and what EWF stories remain untold. Drang (and presumably Isgangdrang) and Alakoring sound like some written drama, too.

It is a pity that Greg's stories and story fragments get so limited distribution. They may not be publishable as stories, but whatever I have seen were excellent mood-setting pieces. Perhaps some future publications touching those topics could use them as such.

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2 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Halwal

I know you love his career! Just for you I found a thing in the "Book of Enemies" under the larger heading of the Vetagi. This is set in a somewhat apocalyptic phase well removed from most of the other material from this era (as you know the Seshnela Kings List ends with Valothir in our ST 194) but the Closing is already a factor as the decline and then loss of overseas markets turns the Seshnegites toward inland conquests:

In 3892 [sic] Halwal the wizard settled in the lands of the Danga. He helped the tribe repel the mounted invaders from Galanin, defeating them. He then persuaded the tribes of the area to unite, and the did so. They then began a campaign to unite all of Ralios. In 3983 the united tribes met the Seshnegians in battle, driving them away and killing the king. The fighting continued under the next king, and the next king, Hisvok, launched a mighty campaign to crush the upstarts. Yomili the sorcerer accompanied the army and the two forces met on the plains of Elera. The wizards confronted each other and had both disappeared by the end of the battle.

And elsewhere, under a different dating system where the Luatha arrive in "1560":

The first nation to suffer from the expansion of the Galaninae was the nation of the Dangkae . . . the king, Vetag, had little control over his subjects even with the help of the exiled Seshnegi sorcerer Halwal [whose] plans of unifying the nations of Ralios into a single unified body of warriors without any people being dominant seemed about to be hopelessly destroyed. Unexpectedly ["1500"] he received help from the race of Tamali who had just been driven from their underground sanctuaries centering on the city of Pasos in Seshneg. The king Xem offered his assistance to his friend Halwal and the Tamali swooped upon the Galaninae encampment during the night, nearly destroying it.

A period of consolidation follows but by "1517" Halwal is actively engaged in averting civil war tearing the nascent "Kingdom of Ralios" apart. Then in "1536" the 19-year-old Queen Ingye attacks the Seshnegi:

For the first time Halwal marched to battle with the army at the head of the court magicians and priests. The armies of Seshneg and Ralios met outside the city of Basmol, and the fighting lasted from dawn until dusk when Halwal and Yomili came face to face. Ignoring their armies the sorcerers began a duel which lasted until late at night when all Power suddenly stopped from both the magicians. Their fate was unknown.

In terms of what caused the Closing, there are probably detailed notes from the era but I don't recall a reference to God Learners per se before WF 5, by which point several points of "Book of Enemies / Book of Foreigners" era geography confidently share the map with Peloria and Prax. There are apparently two contemporary pages on "The Jrustela" in the archive but I haven't seen them. That said, there's clearly a sense of "God Learners" before 1978 because as he says at the time their monomythology is already in the background for how he approaches the material.

Maybe it's worth something like a "Friends of David Starling" (KOS in joke) working group to comb the documents and plumb the origins of things in the pre-1978 timeline. I suspect it would parallel much of Greg's more recent effort to reconcile variant, fragmentary and often contradictory texts to uncover a synoptic Glorantha. On the other hand Chaosium Official is already doing this!


 

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16 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Isn't it badass?😍

It's excellent, though I'm glad I'd read Dictionary of the Khazars beforehand - without that experience I probably would have insisted it on reading it linearly, like a novel, which would have made for a much more difficult read.

21 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Love it. The short answer is "not yet" but maybe if you have some free time we can start putting something together. While Greg Himself didn't keep a lot of precise diachronic notes there's no reason not to compile what we do have. It's a worthy tribute to his achievement, provided of course that's something he'd want.

Not sure I can be of any help (I don't have any training in literary analysis or practical knowledge of relevant fields like comparative mythology and archaeology) but would certainly like to see more of what you're attempting. Is this project of yours completely fan-sourced or is Chaosium involved in some way? 

Edited by MHanretty
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16 hours ago, scott-martin said:

What's striking in this context is how little time actually separates the earliest material from the fanzines and then WBRM. The 1966-74 period must've seemed like an eternity of slow development for him then but in retrospect it's "only" eight years of fairly compressed development. He was moving fast!

I suspect you are the man to confirm this. My recollection is that the Lunar Empire, the Orlanthi and Dragon Pass pretty much don't exist prior to WBRM and were 'created' as background for that game. Is that your understanding, that although it might have drawn on some elements of his earlier writing, the genesis of the material was pretty much the background for that game?

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11 hours ago, MHanretty said:

Not sure I can be of any help (I don't have any training in literary analysis or practical knowledge of relevant fields like comparative mythology and archaeology) but would certainly like to see more of what you're attempting. Is this project of yours completely fan-sourced or is Chaosium involved in some way? 

You cracked Pavic, for all we can tell you're the actual David Starling. But seriously, the experience of being new to "our hobby" and encountering it from this POV is the most valuable thing. While I don't see Chaosium getting involved here (they're incredibly busy and it blurs the hard work of canon in unpredictable ways), you never know . . . it's good marketing for King of Sartar as postmodern novel beyond mere game fiction tie-in. Good to cement Greg's achievement while he can still correct us when we're wrong + recall buried leads.

6 hours ago, Ian Cooper said:

My recollection is that the Lunar Empire, the Orlanthi and Dragon Pass pretty much don't exist prior to WBRM and were 'created' as background for that game. Is that your understanding, that although it might have drawn on some elements of his earlier writing, the genesis of the material was pretty much the background for that game?

That's my understanding too. While the archives can always disgorge something shocking that Greg didn't remember or couldn't find, from his recollection, the Hero Wars world was initially an effort to break away from the West and do something ab novo. Later bits of the old world crept back around the edges.

To me at least this is incredibly liberating because we can observe the development of everything from the game without much fear of obstruction from archaic Western sources that no longer exist much less interact perfectly with the world we have now. As far as I can tell just about everything that survives from the 1975-8 era made it out in the form of various Encyclopedia Glorantha drafts, etc. We Know Everything about the Red Goddess and Orlanth. Answering the remaining questions is up to us + our hobby.

Edited by scott-martin
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2 hours ago, scott-martin said:

To me at least this is incredibly liberating because we can observe the development of everything from the game without much fear of obstruction from archaic Western sources that no longer exist much less interact perfectly with the world we have now.

Of course Greg would not be the first author to write something in a 'new' universe only to 'discover' that it related to one that they had already written, albeit in allusions or obscure references, that then left fans of 'canon' wondering how to reconcile the differences into a whole. It is interesting to see Glorantha as separate 'worlds' that combined, but I am a big fan of the Guides rationalization of the West into something that fits more evenly with the better understood WBRM universe. It is also interesting to note that the WBRM Glorantha is post Greg's discovery of fantasy, and co-evolving with gaming, not just a place for invented mythology.

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25 minutes ago, Ian Cooper said:

WBRM Glorantha is post Greg's discovery of fantasy, and co-evolving with gaming, not just a place for invented mythology.

This is huge. If RPG as a generative framework for fantasy hadn't come along, Greg would've had to invent something like it drawing on his other references. And the process naturally creates additional complexity that better emulates fact-based history -- old theories bend to accommodate new facts, new theories spawn additional research, etc. Facts are discovered in play all the time, especially the LARPs and next-generation board games.

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On 9/1/2018 at 2:27 PM, metcalph said:

Argrath first appeared in White Bear and Red Moon, the boardgame which was later released as Dragon Pass.  First published in 1975 (although writting down sometime before then).

Arkat' is first mentioned in Cults of Prax, published 1978 (p116 of the PDF)

The story I've heard is that Greg wrote Argrath's story, forgot about it and then wrote a similar outline of Arkat.  

 

This is amusingly similar to Tolkien with (Thranduil) Elvenking in the Hobbit and Elu Thingol in the Silmarillion. 

On 9/1/2018 at 1:54 PM, Ian Cooper said:

Whilst it would be an interesting exercise in archeology, it would be hard to accomplish, because only those who have access to Greg's unpublished materials (Chaosium) could really track everything, and then I think dates etc. are unclear from those. Much of it is hand-written, partial note form etc.

Before anyone asks about access to that material, it is chaotic, and Moon Design Publications put much of it into the Guide. Some notes influence products. For example some material made it into The Coming Storm based on Greg's campaign notes about the organization of Orlanthi households, steads etc. I am sure some other pieces will leak into future items.

It might be useful to trace idea paths. For example, the Orlanthi in early RQ are 'barbarians' and seem to be mostly generic fantasy 'barbarians', think Conan, but with a nod to the Greek notion of the barbarian Celts of Europe. Cults of Prax has them at one remove, but the mythology of Orlanth and the Lightbringers gain seems European Iron Age influenced. Later in RQ3 the Orlanthi look a little more like the Germanic tribes of Dark Ages Europe, and notes from Greg's house campaign have clear Anglo-Saxon influences on the Orlanthi social structure. Beowulf seems to be the heroic myth. By the time of Hero Wars (Thunder Rebels) they roll back, and the presentation there includes a lot of Urnfield culture elements, which bleed into Halstatt and Le Tene and the Celts. The Tain becomes just as influential as a heroic myth for them. So we return to early Iron Age and Bronze Age. HeroQuest Glorantha continued that move of the Orlanthi influences away from the Atlantic coast towards Central Europe and Greece, and the Illiad rears its head as an influence. (Mainly due to a perception that distance in Glorantha placed them quite close to the Neo-Babylonian influenced Dara Happan  and Persian influenced Carmanian cultures).

Personally, I think a blend of Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age cultures from across Europe works well, as relying too heavily on any single cultural influence tends to make them analogues. Some of the history here relates to who the creative leads were at any given time. Greg has long had an interest in the British Dark Ages, due to his interest in Arthur, so it was natural that he might reach for that early on. Later authors tried to model the principle that Glorantha was Bronze Age more  explicitly.

BTW, talking of Argrath/Arkat. I guess you pick up the hint that Argrath=Arkat=Arthur. Arthur himself is an Argrath I think, a different one to Glorantha's, but I think in the story of Argrath, Greg was playing with similar tropes and ideas.

 

 

As an aside, from what I've seen from Greg's comments, the conflict between the Sun-worshipping Pelorians and the Storm-worshipping Orlanthi is essentially borrowed thematically from Egyptian mythology, up to the point where both Seth (Sutekh) and Orlanth kill their counterpart (although it's probably debatable whether Osiris counts entirely as a sun deity as opposed to a more general celestial one before he became the king of the dead). The context and aftermath is of course very different, but still, I remember thinking how obvious it was once I read the passage where he pointed it out, yet I never thought about it before.

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For a beginner a first step toward this would be to get to know the history of the publications themselves and the associated fandom.  Being generally familiar with the publications would answer some of these questions.

The closest thing to a written overview of that is Peter Maranci's The History of RuneQuest.  The Chaosium and Issaries parts of Shannon Appelcline's Designers & Dragons are relevant too, although they're more about business and people.

I think the most practical next step for an interested person would probably be to gather all the Glorantha publications that are available in PDF and do a cross-PDF search on any topic of interest.

Edited by Roko Joko
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On Argrath/Arkat, I think twice I’ve been in conversations with Greg where he got them mixed up and told the story of one about the other, and one time was talking about Argrath but called him Arkat. They are both liberators and they are actually just different spellings and pronunciations of the same name. It may have started as a proper name, but became a title in the same way that Caesar became Kaiser and Czar.

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1 hour ago, The God Learner said:

In the monumental strife of the Hero Wars, there shall rise a feathered liberator ... Arquack.

There shall rise a durulz...

Durulz-tossing? Or is this Arquack a wind lord?

Edited by Joerg
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34 minutes ago, Joerg said:

There shall rise a durulz...

Durulz-tossing? Or is this Arquack a wind lord?

Clearly the durulz is the one Gonn Orta is looking for.

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5 hours ago, simonh said:

On Argrath/Arkat, I think twice I’ve been in conversations with Greg where he got them mixed up and told the story of one about the other, and one time was talking about Argrath but called him Arkat. They are both liberators and they are actually just different spellings and pronunciations of the same name. It may have started as a proper name, but became a title in the same way that Caesar became Kaiser and Czar.

Argrath is called 'Arkat' on the Takenegi Stela in the back of the GtG.

There are others too. AgartuSay, for instance.

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In-universe, isn't Argrath explained as just the Thayalanized version of Arkat - sort of like Greek Timotheos and English Timothy? It would make sense for other cultures to refer to Argrath with whatever is their local version of Arkat, then.

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That Sartarite prince is a prime candidate for one of the five returning Arkats of Ralios, not exactly sure which one, though. His help from Ralios certainly had a prequel where he earned that friendship, even if it isn't mentioned in King of Sartar.

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