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Sir_Godspeed

Physical Deformity in Glorantha

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The talk about Cwim, the Chaos monster with three conjoined bodies made me think of the wider ideas regarding physical deformities in Glorantha. When I looked at the Gods War figure, I was struck by how I've seen twins conjoined by the head before (although not triplets).

Is physical deformity usually associated with Chaos, or some other generic idea of congenital disease? Curses, or bad astrological conditions during the marriage/conception/birth? Do we know of any specific culture's attitude on this subject?

I've gotten the impression that the Orlanthi view being left-handed as a "physical deformity", and kill children with this condition. Is it associated with Chaos or some other concern?

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Probably unrelated to Cwim, but the Zistorites at Locsil included Triumvirate, a merging of three powerful sorcerers into one person. Room for speculation...

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39 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I've gotten the impression that the Orlanthi view being left-handed as a "physical deformity", and kill children with this condition. Is it associated with Chaos or some other concern?

Dragonewts are left handed.  That may have something to do with it.  Of course, in a world where you can't necessarily determine if someone has a chaos feature, suspicion of people and things that are different is a matter of survival.  On the other hand,  the reason left handedness survives is that it makes for better fighters.  What is your source for Orlanthi killing left handed children?  I can't remember reading that. 

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Given that Bless Pregnancy lets you choose the sex of the baby, would it let you choose handedness.

Anywhere there's Ernalda/Esrola/Eritha worship, it would be a very ostracised mother indeed who gave birth to a deformed child, I think. Historical attitudes to birth deformities ranged up from infanticide to exposure to the elements, and any deformities that impaired too badly were generally lethal anyway. I'd imagine in places where there isn't a mother Goddess looking out for gravid women and their progeny, similar attitudes would prevail. Obviously any unusual births where the mother has had the help of the Goddesses would be considered either especially holy or especially heinous...

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1 hour ago, Darius West said:

What is your source for Orlanthi killing left handed children?  I can't remember reading that. 

Great question! It's one of those things I've seen mentioned in many of the lore-threads I lurked in around the Internet before I got involved here. It was repeated so regularly that I thought I've just taken it for granted. I seem to remember people using it in conjunction with the Orlanthi acceptance of homosexuality to show newbies that they had to leave their ideas of "ancient/medieval" morality at the door.

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1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

leave their ideas of "ancient/medieval" morality at the door.

The source for this is the birth of Obduran, which sparked a brief talmudic flurry over what exactly his left-handedness signified, do the Orlanthites do that with all unusual babies, how could someone even tell that a newborn even favors one hand over the other. 

The practice was extant before EWF and either survives into the 1580s when Orlaront (weird name, wonder if it runs a long time in that family) is born or is conflated with his biography later. 

Like a lot of things I suspect the line between monsters to cull and gods to worship is blurry at birth and is largely at the discretion of the godis, which is how Obduran survives in the first place. Sometimes you want to bank a special child for emergencies. Other times you screw up. History decides.

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10 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Is physical deformity usually associated with Chaos, or some other generic idea of congenital disease? Curses, or bad astrological conditions during the marriage/conception/birth? Do we know of any specific culture's attitude on this subject?

There's a few club-footed folk noted in various references.  Thrandren Clubfoot, from the Pavis Yelmalio temple, is the most obvious.  And the god Lokarnos is noted for his limping movement across the sky.  Ivar Quickstep in the 11 Lights also has a clubfoot, as does his son Andrin and his father before him.  Possibly a family curse in that case.

I'd view deformity as touched by Disorder, not Chaos.  It might be a joke of Eurmal, a curse of some god or goddess, a birth during Disorder week, etc.

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Trollkin are badly deformed trolls.

I guess most deformities in Glorantha can be healed, in a world where limbs can be reattached or regrown someone local has “cure deformity” skills.

Only very poor people or people afflicted with powerful curses would have to endure unwanted physiological problems.

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14 hours ago, EricW said:

Trollkin are badly deformed trolls.

I guess most deformities in Glorantha can be healed, in a world where limbs can be reattached or regrown someone local has “cure deformity” skills.

Only very poor people or people afflicted with powerful curses would have to endure unwanted physiological problems.

Or ordinarily poor and lower-caste people where disabilities, deformities and unattractiveness is viewed as the proper state for those low on the social scale. Dara Happa, for example, or Fonrit, or Rokari and Brithini societies. In other societies, like in Prax or Pent, I can imagine crippled children or unfortunates who are maimed are murdered.

Teelo Estara, Chalana Arroy and Xiola Umbar are extraordinary because of their unusual moral code, not representative of people or Uz's normal reactions. Charity is not a given, even among Orlanthi: it is easy to 'other' the unfortunate.

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The way I see the RQG vintage of Glorantha, a Sartarite mother would have to be isolated to an extreme extent to be unable to access the services of someone with Bless Pregnancy. Now I'm sure it happens sometimes, and maybe there's some Gloranthan Cosmic Balance that means every shackled-to-the-sink backwoods wife who can't get to see a midwife in the first ummm pentamester, has to have a deformed child to make up for the fact that 99.99% of births are Blessed. Those kids are gonna have to be some mean banjo-players to find a place in Orlanthi Society.

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3 hours ago, womble said:

a Sartarite mother would have to be isolated to an extreme extent to be unable to access the services of someone with Bless Pregnancy

I don't see that as the question.  The question is whether the priestess who knows the magic wants to cast it on the wife of the clan chieftain or on the low-born cottar's wife from the place by the swamp.  She's only got so much magic to spare per season and some may be needed on crops, some on important herd beasts, some on binding the community together, etc. besides blessing certain pregnancies.

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8 hours ago, jajagappa said:

I don't see that as the question.  The question is whether the priestess who knows the magic wants to cast it on the wife of the clan chieftain or on the low-born cottar's wife from the place by the swamp.  She's only got so much magic to spare per season and some may be needed on crops, some on important herd beasts, some on binding the community together, etc. besides blessing certain pregnancies.

The way I see the RQG vintage, you don't have to go to 'the' or even 'a' Priestess. At least one of your grandmother, mother, sisters, aunts, cousins, friends or neighbours will be an Initiate of Ernalda with Bless Pregnancy. Such women will be frequent enough in the population, with the weekly worship opportunities of Clayday Ernalda services that having enough Bless Pregnancy-capable Rune Points in the community to cover the new pregnancies each week won't be a problem, at least at a basic level. Sure, not everyone will get the full services of the 'favourite midwife of the Tula' (mature woman, so a CHA full of Rune Points, high CHA, hence popular); her services will be generally guided to the most significant, but someone the expectant mother knows will have access to the spell, the Rune Point spare and the willingness to cast it, if they're a participant in general Sartarite society, and not some kind of outcast/isolate.

Edit: "only so much magic to share each season": Every week d6 for every Initiate with the spell; d6+1 for Runemasters. At least once a season, 2d6 for the Initiates, full refill for the Runemasters. Twice a year full refill for everyone. Average increase of 1 POW per year across the board. Your average 30 year old midwife could handle 140 pregnancies a year and still have her full CHA 3 or 4 times over for handling surges or doing other things. And, the way I see it, nearly every 30 year old will be a potential midwife. Even if it's only 10% get 'Initiated with a capital I', that's plenty.

Edited by womble
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Chaos Features cause deformity, but that doesn't mean that all deformity is Chaotic.

I am a firm follower of the idea that if your mother was frightened by a horse in pregnancy then you could come out with a horselike face, for example. 

Deformities could be caused by curses, by magic, by ancestry or by many other things. We know that the Serpent Kings of Seshnela had serpent tails instead of legs, for example.

 

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1 hour ago, soltakss said:

Chaos Features cause deformity, but that doesn't mean that all deformity is Chaotic.

I am a firm follower of the idea that if your mother was frightened by a horse in pregnancy then you could come out with a horselike face, for example. 

Deformities could be caused by curses, by magic, by ancestry or by many other things. We know that the Serpent Kings of Seshnela had serpent tails instead of legs, for example.

 

It's an old anthropological adage that the difference between the sacred and cursed is often coincidental.

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On 12/14/2018 at 8:14 AM, EricW said:

Trollkin are badly deformed trolls.

I guess most deformities in Glorantha can be healed, in a world where limbs can be reattached or regrown someone local has “cure deformity” skills.

Only very poor people or people afflicted with powerful curses would have to endure unwanted physiological problems.

Trollkin are the result of a Chaos Wound suffered by Kyger Litor.

---

Generally speaking, deformities are the result of chaotic damage to the individual's connection with the Original Form of its species ; that Chaos is therefore part and parcel of that individual, and so cannot simply be "cured" by anything so simple as a spell.

But it typically requires HeroQuesting, and the more grievous the deformity, up to constituting an actual Chaos Feature, the more difficult that HeroQuest will be.

Alchemy does concern itself, apart from the secondary or ordinary practices of ritual crafting and healing and potion-making, with just such tasks of personal and internal purification, so that it is possible that some deeper alchemical mysteries could be helpful for these things, to a degree at least, and probably mostly in Western Genertela (the Mostali simply destroy such defective units, whereas such imperfections in the Brithini and similar immortals simply lead to the deformed person withering and dying eventually of old age).

But well, even though they might be extraordinarily difficult sometimes, some magical means do exist ; but no ordinary spells ; but extraordinary success is possible, such as the rumoured non-chaotic Broo Healer of the Wastelands, known as the Purified One, who has somehow managed to return into the original non-chaotic form of the broo race that existed before Chaos entered the world in the Gods War.

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What with the Chaos-fueled Lunar foes, plus random Chaos bands and "lone wolf" actors, Disorder-Rune action/actors, Spirits of Reprisal and other Earth-Rune opposition... I can see plenty of sources of supernatural birth-defects to neutralize all but the most mightily-bolstered of Bless Pregnancy.

Edited by g33k

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2 hours ago, g33k said:

What with the Chaos-fueled Lunar foes, plus random Chaos bands and "lone wolf" actors, Disorder-Rune action/actors, Spirits of Reprisal and other Earth-Rune opposition... I can see plenty of sources of supernatural birth-defects to neutralize all but the most mightily-bolstered of Bless Pregnancy.

Thus magic makes things easier and harder at the same time. And any poor mite afflicted with/by one of those things without the Mother's protection is going to be monstrous indeed, or unviable. Or both.

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5 hours ago, g33k said:

Spirits of Reprisal and other Earth-Rune opposition...

And one of the way that the goddesses punish those who have failed the cult (perhaps not even making sufficient sacrifice) is to withdraw their blessings.  Just because Ernalda has granted you her power before, does not mean she always will.

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In the Real World, if you take mice and chop their tails off, then take their offspring and chop their tails of and repeat again and again, you still get mice with tails. Same applies to Glorantha, unless you use Magic or chop off the tail of Mother Mouse.

So, you could use a Curse or HeroQuest Wound to cause a deformity to a creature and its descendants.

The Trollkin are one example, Cave Trolls are another, Horses are a third. I am sure there are lots of other examples.

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There are the midgets of Halkomelem in Akem, whose ancestors had been tapped by the Brithini over generations, resulting in their offspring being born small, as an example of Lamarckian inheritance in Glorantha.

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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

There are the midgets of Halkomelem in Akem, whose ancestors had been tapped by the Brithini over generations, resulting in their offspring being born small, as an example of Lamarckian inheritance in Glorantha.

It could just be selection: only the mothers who had small babies survived and bore live progeny, so Darwinian selection acting on Mendelian inheritance could produce the same result.

Also, Magic. Their DNA was probably smaller; reckon that counts as a germ line mutation... :)

Edit: can the midgets breed with normal sized humans?

Edited by womble

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Lets put it this way, if you have a physical deformity and worship a Lunar deity, stay away from Uroxi at all costs, as even if you aren't chaos tainted, they will assume you are illuminated and kill you all the same.  I suspect that many Gloranthan peoples treat physical deformity with suspicion, as a sign of possible chaos, after all, deformity "perverts the man rune".  Prejudice is ever an easy option that requires little thought, after all.  Remember too, that many deformed people will be forced into undesirable roles like becoming tricksters and beggars, which will further alienate them.

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5 hours ago, Darius West said:

I suspect that many Gloranthan peoples treat physical deformity with suspicion, as a sign of possible chaos, after all, deformity "perverts the man rune". 

I think this will really depend on degree.  Sprouting a third arm, yes.  Clubfoot, or extra or missing digits, stunted leg, incredible ugliness (ala Urgggh the Ugly), no.  It might be blamed on a trickster ("string him up!"), or a shaman's curse, or an influx of Disorder (blame it on the Storm Bulls!), or even Ernalda cursing the birth.  Whether it results in suspicion or not will depend on community, friends, et al.

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18 hours ago, jajagappa said:

I think this will really depend on degree.  Sprouting a third arm, yes.  Clubfoot, or extra or missing digits, stunted leg, incredible ugliness (ala Urgggh the Ugly), no.  It might be blamed on a trickster ("string him up!"), or a shaman's curse, or an influx of Disorder (blame it on the Storm Bulls!), or even Ernalda cursing the birth.  Whether it results in suspicion or not will depend on community, friends, et al.

True, but the lingering question of chaos will always be in the back of people's minds.  It's human nature to hate what is different, and what is true of humans will be true of the rest of the man rune population too.  In a world where chaos is a continuous threat, those questions will never go away, and while one may win the trust of one's clan, those who don't know the individual may well be extreme in their prejudice.  History in our world is replete with examples, and in terms of story telling, where the instinct towards tolerance is always tinged with the ambiguity that the individual may actually be chaotic, or that given mistreatment, may have converted to chaos.  That would make for a powerful story.  All too often ostracism and bullying creates monsters in our world, and every person has a tipping point when their resentment spills over.  This story would probably be a less fun, but more dramatic and uncomfortable session that digs at the gnawing issues of trust that lie at the heart of every social contract.

Edited by Darius West
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