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EricW

Clanking City Paradox

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There is a mind bending paradox at the heart of the Clanking City which I would like to share.

The purpose of Zistor, the mechanical god at the heart of the Clanking City, was to catalogue, categorise and comprehend everything in Glorantha.

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Beneath the surface of Locsil Isle, which is increasingly becoming known as Zistorela as the infamy of the city spreads, the real city lies hidden from sight. Here in the subterranean darkness is the massively complex, sprawling World Machine. This is Zazistor, the True Zistor, a city-sized engine built to catalogue, categorise and comprehend everything in the world so that it could later be broken down and restructured along more perfect schematics. It is the ultimate aim of the God Learners to use the power of their created god and the lost rune they believe they have discovered – the Zistor Rune – to remake the world in a harmonious image.

But a draconic spy sent into the Clanking City found evidence of chaos, somewhere deep inside the bowels of the machine - though afterwards he couldn't remember exactly what he discovered.

Quote

...

One aspect to your scrawls interests me, though. Are you aware that you wrote CHAOS IS HERE eight hundred and eleven times in your notes? Intriguing.’

Delecti the Inquirer

 

To catalogue everything, Zistor has to also catalogue itself. But the new catalogue entry describing Zistor is always incomplete.

The new catalogue entry describes Zistor as it was before it attempted to catalogue itself. But with the addition of the new catalogue entry, Zistor has changed since the original catalogue entry was created, it now contains a catalogue entry describing itself as it was before  a new catalogue entry describing Zistor was added.

So an amended catalogue entry is required - the catalogue entry has to be updated to reflect a version of Zistor which contains a catalogue entry describing itself. But this catalogue entry is out of date as soon as it is created - Zistor now contains a catalogue entry describing a version of Zistor which contains a catalogue entry describing itself, not a version of Zistor which contains a catalogue entry describing a version of Zistor which contains a catalogue entry describing itself.

This recursion is infinite - every update to Zistor's catalogue entry describing itself creates the need for yet another catalogue entry which describes a version of Zistor which contains the latest self describing catalogue entry.

To truly catalogue everything Zistor has to do the impossible - and in Glorantha, attempting to do the impossible leads to Chaos.

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You're confusing Zistor and Zazistor, Zazistor is the city, is the god the city manifested. Zistor prays to his father Zazistor. Zazistor was the manifestation of the (fake) rune they were creating, it becoming purer as it continued its actions, eventually manifesting Zistor. If anything Zazistor was a flawed World Machine, likely not capable to perform a recursive action, as its real purpose was to convert the world into its componant parts and reassemble it as perfect world (think Ragnarok or better still, A Clash of Cymbals by James Blish). I realise that you had to make up your own mind as to whether there was actually any chaos in Zazistor. Personally I don't think there was, Zistor as a god never managed to achieve any real freedom of movement in the world unlike Nysalor / Gbaji. Regardless, it ended badly 🙂

 

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I do quite like this, and the idea of recursiveness (and the futility of omniscience) is a clever plot point.

I have no idea on whether the Chaotic presence is "canonical", but it seems to me that merely trying to manifest a new deity within time is arguably Chaotic in itself, as it violates the Cosmic Compromise (and plays on the same motif as Nysalor and Sedenya, and possibly even Ompalam and Avanapdur, although the former is not necessarily a newly created god, just liberated, and the latter might've been a pre-Dawn event, I forget.) Certainly Chaotic from the Orlanthi and Theyalan perspective though.

Anyway, the second Chaotic infestion point I could imagine is that if Zistor was going to register and catalogue all things, it would necessarily have to catalogue Chaos as well, in all its myriad forms, which could be chaotic in itself. Forbidden knowledge and all that.

I have no idea if Delecti's involvement is canonical either, but that's a cool nod to him pre-undeath as a functionary of the EWF, even if the Machine War was more of a proxy-war than involving the EWF overtly. This brings me to why the God Learners would place such an important project on the border of their main political, military and cosmic rival, but this is Glorantha, so I suppose the answer is "something something mythically important site".

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11 hours ago, EricW said:

So an amended catalogue entry is required - the catalogue entry has to be updated to reflect a version of Zistor which contains a catalogue entry describing itself. But this catalogue entry is out of date as soon as it is created - Zistor now contains a catalogue entry describing a version of Zistor which contains a catalogue entry describing itself, not a version of Zistor which contains a catalogue entry describing a version of Zistor which contains a catalogue entry describing itself.

This recursion is infinite - every update to Zistor's catalogue entry describing itself creates the need for yet another catalogue entry which describes a version of Zistor which contains the latest self describing catalogue entry.

To truly catalogue everything Zistor has to do the impossible - and in Glorantha, attempting to do the impossible leads to Chaos.

The Zistor Paradox - It creates a Catalogue of all written works that refer to themselves, so the Zistor Catalogue contains "The Zistor Catalogue" as an entry, but what about its counterpart, all those written works that do not contain themselves? If this Catalogue refers to itself then it isn't in the Catalogue and so cannot refer to itself, but if it doesn't refer to itself it should be in the catalogue and then should not refer to itself.

At that point, Zistor grinds to a halt, Lhankor Mhy passes out and Irrippi Ontor makes it an oral catalogue and shows why he is better than Lhankor Mhy.

Edited by soltakss
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2 hours ago, Steve said:

What's the source for this? The Mongoose book?

Yes, none of the Mongoose books are canonical. However there’s entertainment in it. 

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1 hour ago, soltakss said:

At that point, Zistor grinds to a halt, Lhankor Mhy passes out and Irrippi Ontor makes it an oral catalogue and shows why he is better than Lhankor Mhy.

Wow, Irripi ontor was way older than I thought when he did the Red Goddess ritual...

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1 hour ago, David Scott said:

Wow, Irripi ontor was way older than I thought when he did the Red Goddess ritual...

HeroQuesting, my boy, HeroQuesting ...

Edited by soltakss

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6 minutes ago, soltakss said:

HeroQuesting, my boy, HeroQuesting ...

Although my original post was tongue in cheek, once the Paradox has been established, I can see Knowledge Priests HeroQuesting to try and solve/overcome it.

  • Lhankor Mhy cultists would try and find a way of having two conflicting things true at the same time.
  • Malkioni would try to make some kind of order and provie why Zistor got it wrong and what can they do differently to what Zistor did.
  • Irrippi Ontor would look at it in a different way and work out how to make it not a paradox.

Knowledge Cultists being what they are, they would not share that knowledge, if they solve the Paradox, but would keep it to themselves, in order to make them more powerful. each HeroQuestor trying to solve the Paradox would then have to solve it themselves, without any help from cult members.

Edited by soltakss

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8 hours ago, David Scott said:

Zistor as a god never managed to achieve any real freedom of movement in the world unlike Nysalor / Gbaji.

It wasn't confined to Zistorwal.
From "The Book of Heortling Mythology"

Quote

One day Zistor the Destroyer showed up, in person, to
help during the invasion of Esrolia. It was a huge monster,
made of gleaming metal and wires, which tore down the
walls of cities.

 

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5 hours ago, soltakss said:

The Zistor Paradox - It creates a Catalogue of all written works that refer to themselves, so the Zistor Catalogue contains "The Zistor Catalogue" as an entry, but what about its counterpart, all those written works that do not contain themselves? If this Catalogue refers to itself then it isn't in the Catalogue and so cannot refer to itself, but if it doesn't refer to itself it should be in the catalogue and then should not refer to itself.

At that point, Zistor grinds to a halt, Lhankor Mhy passes out and Irrippi Ontor makes it an oral catalogue and shows why he is better than Lhankor Mhy.

Fortunately for the Zistorites, this fate was avoided thanks to the inclusion of the great wizard Gödel on the design committee.

In point of fact, the glorious new world they were trying to create was one in which a formal system could be both consistent and complete.

Edited by JonL
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1 hour ago, JonL said:

It wasn't confined to Zistorwal.
From "The Book of Heortling Mythology"

But that’s what I mean, just popping along the coast versus across the continent. Okay so he went out, but not as free ranging as Nysalor.

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1 hour ago, David Scott said:

But that’s what I mean, just popping along the coast versus across the continent. Okay so he went out, but not as free ranging as Nysalor.

Maybe he just didn't want/need to?

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1 hour ago, David Scott said:

But that’s what I mean, just popping along the coast versus across the continent. Okay so he went out, but not as free ranging as Nysalor.

Its power lead can only stretch so far....

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11 minutes ago, Lord High Munchkin said:

Its power lead can only stretch so far....

"Undone by a lack of faith in the force! And by a ridiculously short extension cord!"

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7 hours ago, JonL said:

It wasn't confined to Zistorwal.
From "The Book of Heortling Mythology"

Quote

One day Zistor the Destroyer showed up, in person, to
help during the invasion of Esrolia. It was a huge monster,
made of gleaming metal and wires, which tore down the
walls of cities.

 

Except that Zistor wasn't the Machine God.  That was Zazistor who was confined to Zistorwal according to the Middle Empire Empire Book p47.

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Zistor merely made himself the point of reference.  Paradox solved.  Everything else became relative to Zistor.

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11 hours ago, metcalph said:

Except that Zistor wasn't the Machine God.  That was Zazistor who was confined to Zistorwal according to the Middle Empire Empire Book p47.

I suspect the relationship is similar to that of Muzarharm & Yelm. 

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1 hour ago, JonL said:

I suspect the relationship is similar to that of Muzarharm & Yelm. 

One is god time mythology, where often we can't clearly separate individuals from each other (son of the Sun, lesser sun etc). The other is a giant physical "robot" created by a materialist sorcerously created city. As it says in the MSE:

Quote

The Zistorite movement was a manifestation of the God Learner tendency to create from the material world up. 

  In my mind Zistor/Zazistor is the complete opposite of Yelm/Murharzarm.
       
 

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One day Zistor the Destroyer showed up, in person, to
help during the invasion of Esrolia. It was a huge monster,
made of gleaming metal and wires, which tore down the
walls of cities.

Has anyone drawn Orlanth vs. Zistor? Thunder God wrestling a magical Mecha ought to look pretty great...

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On 9/13/2018 at 12:44 PM, Akhôrahil said:

Has anyone drawn Orlanth vs. Zistor? Thunder God wrestling a magical Mecha ought to look pretty great...

There's only one pic of Zistor to my knowledge and that's in Kodp, It's not what I would of imagined:

e58176286b9239394fc747b5b19e3d44.jpg

Edited by David Scott
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