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Breaking a geas

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3 hours ago, Imryn said:

Humakt is the only death god in the lightbringer pantheon - he is "The God of Death" for those who worship any of the Lightbringers pantheon.

Storm Bull (Urox) is a god of death and is in the Lightbringer pantheon.

3 hours ago, Imryn said:

@Jeff I gotta ask. What were you guys thinking when you decided to limit the power of divination by NERFING THE GODS! You must have realised that it would spill over into every other interaction between the world and the gods. Surely there was a better way to limit the power of divination?

I don't think the gods have been nerfed. Divination and geases have worked in essentially the same way for 30 years. I remember having conversations about "Well, how does Orlanth know that? It was a secret and I was the only person who knew and I didn't tell him."

 

3 hours ago, Imryn said:

Right off the top of my head I can think of one: The Gods exist outside time and have no concept of how to exist in a linear fashion. Any vision granted by divination has no indication of when it is happen(ing / ed) and sequences will be disjointed and may jump from the past, to the future, to the present at complete random.

Not the future. Gloranthan deities explicitly don'y know the future and can't tell anyone what the future is going to be.

 

2 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

We've been over this earlier in the thread... but, being knocked unconscious and tied to a horse shouldn't be a breach of geas... and, Humakt should certainly not know about it as it happens, when the Humakti themselves isn't (and isn't in a position to do anything about it)

Yes and no. If I played a Humakti with a geas "Never ride a horse" and I was knocked out, put on a horse and taken somewhere, then technically I have broken a geas. For the forseeable future, I will have lost the gift associated with the geas. However, I should be able to go to a Humakt Temple, perform a ceremony, make a sacrifice and everything should be OK again. If I woke up on the horse, grabbed the reins and rode off to escape, then I would have broken the geas properly and would lose the gift permanently, or might have to HeroQuest to get it back again.

2 hours ago, Imryn said:

Why do worshippers of gods who don't get geases have to swear oaths and donate POW?

I think that you are confusing several things.

Some cults have Cult Requirements. So, someone might have "Never use Silver" as a cult requirement, Thanatar might have this. If a cultists uses silver then they have broken a cult requirement or cult rule. This puts a mark against them that some people will be able to see. If they continue to break the rules, they might be spoken to by a Rune Level, have dreams of an angry deity or be visited by a cult spirit of retribution and possibly kicked out of the cult for repeated violations.

Some cults have geases, which are sacred promises made by the PC to the deity ro behave in a certain way. If you break a geas you lose the Gift related to the geas. If you break lots of geases, you may well become apostate and end up with the cult spirit of retribution and may end up being thrown out of the cult. Really bad Humakti cannot use swords, for their swords shatter if they pick them up, for example.

Some cults have the Oath spell, which is a magical contract between two people, which causes the death of one of the participants if they break the Oath. Breaking the oath triggers the spell, as the spell isn't part of the knowledge of the deity, it is a magical contract with terms and conditions. 

So, an oath to join a cult isn't the same as an oath to take a geas or an Oath Runespell.

2 hours ago, Imryn said:

So why are gods limited to only knowing what their worshippers tell them?

Partly as a game construct, I think. If I asked Orlanth where the Staff of Yamsur was, how would Orlanth know the answer? You might say "Because it's surrounded by air and Orlanth is the god of air", but what if it is hidden in a lead chest at the bottom of the sea? Orlanth wouldn't know the answer.

I play that gods know what happens within their realm. So, orlanth would have an idea of what happens in the sir, perhaps not in any great detail, but he'd know enough.

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3 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

We've been over this earlier in the thread... but, being knocked unconscious and tied to a horse shouldn't be a breach of geas... and, Humakt should certainly not know about it as it happens, when the Humakti themselves isn't (and isn't in a position to do anything about it)

 

Despite what you think it should be, alas, it is something different. Argue if you will, it doesn't change facts. A geas in the real world (well, so to speak) is often unfair. Period. There are story after story of folks breaking geases and suffering for it, not story after story  of people praying to gods to let them go this time and they promise to never do it again and the gods realizing what curs and boors they have been and how they realize they were wrong and their worshippers were right. And yeah, Humakt would know if the devotee was unfaithful. 

Cheers

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11 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Despite what you think it should be, alas, it is something different. Argue if you will, it doesn't change facts. A geas in the real world (well, so to speak) is often unfair. Period. There are story after story of folks breaking geases and suffering for it, not story after story  of people praying to gods to let them go this time and they promise to never do it again and the gods realizing what curs and boors they have been and how they realize they were wrong and their worshippers were right. And yeah, Humakt would know if the devotee was unfaithful. 

Cheers

My post wasn't so much about right and wrong of geasa (I can see the argument for the breaking in the example) - it's about when the break happens. Is it as soon as the break happens? Or when the geased becomes aware of it?

If it's the latter - how? 

Does having a geas (Or the gift) automatically mean the deity is permanently watching over the initiate? Is there a spirit constantly hanging around? Has the deity got itself a back door into the initiates unconscious? 

Which leads to... Is the gift/geas attached to the spirit or the body of the initiate? Or the mind? Or... Something else? 

(Silly questions, you may think... Until someone gets Dominated, or "their body possessed" ... Etc)

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1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

My post wasn't so much about right and wrong of geasa (I can see the argument for the breaking in the example) - it's about when the break happens. Is it as soon as the break happens? Or when the geased becomes aware of it?

 

No worries, I assumed you were on about geases—period.

 I will defer to the words of Jeff and what he has said here and in the rules first (canonical, simplifying my worries {truly, why worry about entertainment}) and my own beliefs so well stated by PhilHibbs a post or two back. Work with your friends to reach agreement. Why lose friends over minutiae. 

1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

t's about when the break happens. Is it as soon as the break happens? Or when the geased becomes aware of it?

 If it's the latter - how? 

Ah the meat of your treatise. Sometimes minutiae matters...  Man, if I was smart I would let the real grognards deal with this, and set[ back (so who's smart) Still, there are many here so much smarter here than I, so weight this accordingly. Onwards!

We know the gods do not work we'll with time. so to your first point...

When? the god's can not know before you break the geas (time and the great compromise and all that).So news of the transgression would have to travel at (let's call it) the speed of sin. How fast does news of sin travel to the deity. The gods are not omnipotent, so I would imagine that it could not be instantaneously transmitted (unless there is something in the mythos that would explain this, like incredibly great speed or... So the sin is transmitted by agents, perhaps? Wind carry news of deeds to Orlanth. cats travelling night and day to bring word to Yinkin. shadows drifting eerily quiet on their way to where the shadows dance and were lies the Castle of Lead to bring word to the Mother of Darkness...

Okay, if this is right. possibly sometime after the sin comes the other shoe dropping  and your doom falling upon you. The god or goddess's grace and luck are now removed (Hmm how?)

1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

Does having a geas (Or the gift) automatically mean the deity is permanently watching over the initiate? Is there a spirit constantly hanging around? Has the deity got itself a back door into the initiates unconscious? 

There is a  permeant linkage after the initial sacrifice of a point of POW but how much attention is the deity investing into the link? Enough to hear a DI, sometimes, and power spells if all circumstances are correct, but that is about it, usually.

Hmm is it a spirit tagging along, or just rumours drifting up or down to be received of not depending on whether the god or goddess would be paying attention or not that whispers of your sin. Assuming deities would use the simplest solution available (barring myths that must be satisfied first) it might be the many spirits that interact very close to the transgressor at all times in his travels in daily activities. or the cult animals that might be around a good religions stead that the the word to the deity or....

1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

 Which leads to... Is the gift/geas attached to the spirit or the body of the initiate? Or the mind? Or... Something else? 

In Glorantha many rituals and teachings are about the separation of the dead from the living. since death came into the world. There does seem to be something that lives like you (to a degree) after death, with your beliefs and seeming as well. Let's say soul or perhaps POW.  I would imagine tis is what the deity is interested in dealing with.

Anyway that would be my views on those questions, I have answered all as best I can (and possibly incorrectly, but)

1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

 (Silly questions, you may think... Until someone gets Dominated, or "their body possessed" ... Etc)

nah, I got silly questions, just try me.

Cheers

Edited by Bill the barbarian

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@Imryn I think you're looking for a degree of internal consistency which is, by designer intention, not present in most Gloranthan games. That's been my impression for quite some time. I suggest choosing a metaphysic which best suits your game milieu and letting that sit.

3 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

So news of the transgression would have to travel at (let's call it) the speed of sin. How fast does news of sin travel to the deity. The gods are not omnipotent, so I would imagine that it could not be instantaneously transmitted (unless there is something in the mythos that would explain this, like incredibly great speed or...

The way I think of the geas bond is like this: you're on the surface of a lake, floating with a life vest. The straps constrict you, but you're easily supported by the cushions. Yet if you twist the wrong way, you might break those straps--and drop plunging into the deep waters.

Another way I like to think of it is that the geas bond is like a binary connection with the god. Humakt either knows "One" or "Zero." If one becomes zero, the geas was broken and the gift disappears. Sort of like the "does the initiate have faith?" bond which gods are said to know IIRC; they have it as a Yes/No, not as a sliding scale. They can acquire more information from prayers, but otherwise it's just a binary choice.

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3 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

No worries, I assumed you were on about geases—period.

 I will defer to the words of Jeff and what he has said here and in the rules first (canonical, simplifying my worries {truly, why worry about entertainment}) and my own beliefs so well stated by PhilHibbs a post or two back. Work with your friends to reach agreement. Why lose friends over minutiae. 

Ah the meat of your treatise. Sometimes minutiae matters...  Man, if I was smart I would let the real grognards deal with this, and set[ back (so who's smart) Still, there are many here so much smarter here than I, so weight this accordingly. Onwards!

We know the gods do not work we'll with time. so to your first point...

When? the god's can not know before you break the geas (time and the great compromise and all that).So news of the transgression would have to travel at (let's call it) the speed of sin. How fast does news of sin travel to the deity. The gods are not omnipotent, so I would imagine that it could not be instantaneously transmitted (unless there is something in the mythos that would explain this, like incredibly great speed or... So the sin is transmitted by agents, perhaps? Wind carry news of deeds to Orlanth. cats travelling night and day to bring word to Yinkin. shadows drifting eerily quiet on their way to where the shadows dance and were lies the Castle of Lead to bring word to the Mother of Darkness...

Okay, if this is right. possibly sometime after the sin comes the other shoe dropping  and your doom falling upon you. The god or goddess's grace and luck are now removed (Hmm how?)

There is a  permeant linkage after the initial sacrifice of a point of POW but how much attention is the deity investing into the link? Enough to hear a DI, sometimes, and power spells if all circumstances are correct, but that is about it, usually.

Hmm is it a spirit tagging along, or just rumours drifting up or down to be received of not depending on whether the god or goddess would be paying attention or not that whispers of your sin. Assuming deities would use the simplest solution available (barring myths that must be satisfied first) it might be the many spirits that interact very close to the transgressor at all times in his travels in daily activities. or the cult animals that might be around a good religions stead that the the word to the deity or....

In Glorantha many rituals and teachings are about the separation of the dead from the living. since death came into the world. There does seem to be something that lives like you (to a degree) after death, with your beliefs and seeming as well. Let's say soul or perhaps POW.  I would imagine tis is what the deity is interested in dealing with.

Anyway that would be my views on those questions, I have answered all as best I can (and possibly incorrectly, but)

nah, I got silly questions, just try me.

Cheers

This is good stuff!

DI happens almost instantly (between the sword starting its swing and landing) for all gods, so there is a very fast communication channel for that. Is that powered by the sacrifice the character makes? A RL calling for DI (if he is lucky) can make a sacrifice smaller than the one required for initiate oaths but still gets an instant(ish) response. In theory that means that the smite could hit the moment after the character forms the intent to break a geas - certainly the god could be aware as soon as the intent is formed and smite in the same instant the characters butt hit the saddle (for the oft quoted riding geas).

In the games i used to play geases were treated very gently. Characters were assumed to be obeying them at all times without constant input from the players, so we didn't have stuff like "do you serve non alcoholic drinks" and "does the pot pie contain vegetables" disrupting the flow of play constantly, and if the players proposed a course of action that would break a characters geas the GM would remind the player. Breaking a geas had to be a deliberate act by the player, it couldn't happen by accident. We also didn't have geases breaking involuntarily for actions that were out of the players control, but that might have been a bit too lenient.

Edited by Imryn

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17 hours ago, soltakss said:

Storm Bull (Urox) is a god of death and is in the Lightbringer pantheon.

Storm Bull, from RQG

"The Storm Bull is the god of berserks. He is the Desert Wind, the raw power of righteous purifying rage. The primary purpose of the Storm Bull is to prevent the rise of the Devil, or any associated form of Chaos. Storm Bull is beloved by the Praxians and tolerated even in civilized Orlanthi lands because he is so skilled against the forces of Chaos. Where Chaos is active, Storm Bull is a popular cult."

No mention of death anywhere there. He is associated with the death rune but that doesn't make him "The God or Death" or even "A God of Death" any more than his association with the beast rune makes him "The God of Beasts" or his association with the air rune makes him "The God of the Air".

The way a pantheon of gods works in the real world is that for each of the spheres of influence that the worshippers thought were important - death, life, wealth, rulership, etc etc - there was a god who controlled that thing, and if you wanted something to do with that thing you prayed to that god. In the real world this was (IMHO) a scam perpetrated by priests to get power and wealth, but the principal is exactly the same as if the gods were real. If there were two gods of death then the worshippers could choose which one to pray to and this would cut into the profits of the priests of the other one. One group of scammers would kill off the other group and you are back to having one death god.

In a fantasy world you can create a pantheon of gods that contains as many death gods as you like, but for that pantheon to have any internal consistency, and to be believable, there would have to be conflict between those gods that eventually resulted in just one. A pantheon literally doesn't work unless there is a clear demarcation of responsibilities.

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18 hours ago, soltakss said:

I don't think the gods have been nerfed. Divination and geases have worked in essentially the same way for 30 years. I remember having conversations about "Well, how does Orlanth know that? It was a secret and I was the only person who knew and I didn't tell him."

Not the future. Gloranthan deities explicitly don'y know the future and can't tell anyone what the future is going to be.

OK, my first off the cuff idea wasn't so good. How about this one:

The gods don't see people and events the way we do. Where we would see two people speaking to each other, exchanging information in a linear fashion using words, the gods see things completely differently. The gods don't just see peoples physical appearance, they see a swirling tangle of a persons loyalties, devotions, runic associations, wants needs and intentions. They don't perceive a linear exchange of information using words, they experience a gestalt of the exchange of information that includes the emotions the persons involved experienced during the conversation. This makes interpreting a vision provided by divination very difficult.

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19 hours ago, soltakss said:

I think that you are confusing several things.

Some cults have Cult Requirements. So, someone might have "Never use Silver" as a cult requirement, Thanatar might have this. If a cultists uses silver then they have broken a cult requirement or cult rule. This puts a mark against them that some people will be able to see. If they continue to break the rules, they might be spoken to by a Rune Level, have dreams of an angry deity or be visited by a cult spirit of retribution and possibly kicked out of the cult for repeated violations.

Some cults have geases, which are sacred promises made by the PC to the deity ro behave in a certain way. If you break a geas you lose the Gift related to the geas. If you break lots of geases, you may well become apostate and end up with the cult spirit of retribution and may end up being thrown out of the cult. Really bad Humakti cannot use swords, for their swords shatter if they pick them up, for example.

Some cults have the Oath spell, which is a magical contract between two people, which causes the death of one of the participants if they break the Oath. Breaking the oath triggers the spell, as the spell isn't part of the knowledge of the deity, it is a magical contract with terms and conditions. 

So, an oath to join a cult isn't the same as an oath to take a geas or an Oath Runespell.

A cultist sacs 1 point of POW when he rises from lay member to initiate. That is the same for every cult, whether they have special restrictions or not, whether they have gifts and geases or not. If that 1 point of POW can create a link with the god such that the god immediately knows if a geas is broken, why can that link not be used for other purposes? If the cult has no gifts and geases you still have to sac the POW so that link is just sitting there unused.

If the cultist has to swear a different oath related to gifts and geases, where does the POW for that oath come from?

Edited by Imryn

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21 minutes ago, Imryn said:

A cultist sacs 1 point of POW when he rises from lay member to initiate. That is the same for every cult, whether they have special restrictions or not, whether they have gifts and geases or not. If that 1 point of POW can create a link with the god such that the god immediately knows if a geas is broken, why can that link not be used for other purposes? If the cult has no gifts and geases you still have to sac the POW so that link is just sitting there unused.

I already answered this in an earlier post:

Initiates will swear generic oaths to their god - to observe holy days etc. If they stop doing these things then the god is going to know about that through the connection made by the initial POW sacrifice.

The POW isn't wasted - it spiritually connects the worshipper to their god and allows the god to know that they remain a faithful initiate. 

Thinking about it, gifts are granted in return for the geas - so in cost/benefit terms it's arguably a zero sum game: perhaps no POW sacrifice is needed, since the initiate is already suffering austerities instead.

Edited by Sumath

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2 minutes ago, Sumath said:

I already answered this in an earlier post:

Initiates will swear generic oaths to their god - to observe holy days etc. If they stop doing these things then the god is going to know about that through the connection made by the initial POW sacrifice.

The POW isn't wasted - it spiritually connects the worshipper to their god and allows the god to know that they remain a faithful initiate. You could think of geases as a series of optional oaths within the initiate oath.

But there is only 1 point of POW sacrificed no matter what optional oaths are sworn. If the 1 point can provide the power for the geas oath what is being used for if there is no geas oath?

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As per my edit above, it could be the behavioural sacrifice that the geas-holder provides. In Vedic and other belief systems, austerities are just as great a sacrifice as immolating cattle or destroying valuable goods for the gods. The Mahabharata has lots of characters appeasing the gods by not eating for days, giving up material luxuries, undergoing deliberate hardships etc.

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15 minutes ago, Sumath said:

As per my edit above, it could be the behavioural sacrifice that the geas-holder provides. In Vedic and other belief systems, austerities are just as great a sacrifice as immolating cattle or destroying valuable goods for the gods. The Mahabharata has lots of characters appeasing the gods by not eating for days, giving up material luxuries, undergoing deliberate hardships etc.

We have two cases:

1. Initiate oath covers 1 billion and one things but NOT geas

2. Initiate oath covers 1 billion and one things PLUS geas

Both require 1 POW. Case 2 provides direct instant link to god, Case 1 does not. Same POW sacrifice for each so what is the POW used for in Case 1.

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4 minutes ago, Imryn said:

We have two cases:

1. Initiate oath covers 1 billion and one things but NOT geas

2. Initiate oath covers 1 billion and one things PLUS geas

All you've done here is prove how little difference there is in POW requirements.

5 minutes ago, Imryn said:

Case 2 provides direct instant link to god, Case 1 does not.

No. Case 1 does provide a direct link to god. The question is: is your god listening to you or not? If you're a Rune Lord, then yes your god is probably listening (which is why DI is so much more likely), if you're an Initiate, then your god is only listening on a good day. A geas is a point of interest, about which your god is always listening. 

And as I said before, there are more types of sacrifice than just POW sacrifice.

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On 6/14/2019 at 2:42 PM, Jeff said:

don't think that the secrets of Illumination are needed for players and gamemasters to understand geases. Let's deal with that when you have an Illuminated player character.

I know that this is a RuneQuest thread but.... we’ve had gifts and geases and Illumination rules in HeroQuest for *years*, and I’ve had PCs in my HQ games with both for years. How they relate should be a Gloranthan question, not a game system question. So by the logic of ‘deal with it when it’s hits your game’, I think we are past due.

(quite aside from that, I do have the GoG preview, and I expect Illuminated PCs very soon) 

My assumption is that the god, at some level, is reacting to guilt of the worshipper, or their awareness of breaking a geas - and the Illuminate is able to bypass that in the same manner as they bypass spirits of retribution. But it would be nice to a smidgen more clarity. 

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16 hours ago, Imryn said:

But there is only 1 point of POW sacrificed no matter what optional oaths are sworn. If the 1 point can provide the power for the geas oath what is being used for if there is no geas oath?

The gift/geas mechanism requires the initiate POW sacrifice, but isn't powered by it. The oath when taking the geas and the gift is an additional exchange between the worshiper and the deity (Humakt or Yelmalio). The gift is an additional presence of the deity as long as the worshiper behaves accordingly - something like a life-long quest, and in my opinion tied to the Truth Rune (as are most if not all magically powerful oaths).

And yes, that's a different interpretation of the Truth Rune than that of a Lhankor Mhy Sage, who is after the intellectual truth rather than behavioral truthfulness. Deception goes against either of these, though.

15 hours ago, Imryn said:

We have two cases:

1. Initiate oath covers 1 billion and one things but NOT geas

2. Initiate oath covers 1 billion and one things PLUS geas

Both require 1 POW. Case 2 provides direct instant link to god, Case 1 does not. Same POW sacrifice for each so what is the POW used for in Case 1.

The cult initiation is not a simple oath (and neither just an elaborate one).

It is an elaborate quest into the myths of your deity, an experience of the Other Side, that culminates in the transfer of part of your soul to the Other Side domain of the deity. It is an experience which shapes the future behavioral patterns of the worshiper.

Accepting a gift and geas combination is an additional obligation provided by very few deities. This is a rite following the initiatory experience, and as many such rites will take place partially in the mundane world, partially on the Other Side.

The RQG rules book doesn't offer much (if any) information on this topic. There is plenty Gloranthan lore out there that does, though. The game rules are not a complete description of the setting.

Your argumentation comes across to me as the almost petulant demand that a car's user manual should provide you with a driver's license. The game rules of an rpg are never the final truth of the setting, but only a first approximation. They give you something to work with, something to build upon, but they don't provide you with universal official mastery of the setting.

I assisted a friend today running the Cult of Chaos convention scenario set in Runegate at our regional general rpg convention in Hamburg. It was a Gloranthan experience with  very little Gloranthan knowledge, trying to hold the learning curve not too steep. The players had no previous exposure to Glorantha and only cursory exposure to BRP, and they did struggle slightly with the data they were provided on the pregens from the Quickstart. Sitting by as an assistant rather than carrying the load of providing the story and the info dump allowed me to look at the interaction of the players with both the system and the consequences of the game world. The culture introduction was rather general, and the points of Orlanthi culture were once again somewhat lost. The players were experienced with other systems, had quite a bunch of roleplaying habits that weren't always helpful, but on occasion pointing this out was helpful to get the setting and the "gaming in society" a few steps closer. Fun was had, some seeds may have been sown.

Edited by Joerg

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On 6/15/2019 at 3:47 PM, Imryn said:

We also didn't have geases breaking involuntarily for actions that were out of the players control, but that might have been a bit too lenient.

Now that's just taking the fun out of it!

Putting them in situations which offer difficult solutions is what a geas is all about! 

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As a story exposition, giving a character a geas means that at some point, the geas is going to be tested to the breaking point, and probably beyond. That's the point of this exercise. Accepting a geas is accepting certain doom. Struggling to prevent that doom for some time while contributing to the story arc is fine, but avoiding that doom at all cost is missing the point, as is letting the character having all the agency in avoiding that doom.

If you are playing a Humakti, there are only two types of characters you can have in the middle run - dead or forsworn. In the long run, dead is of course the only option.

But a geas is a case of Chekhov's Gun. You introduce it to a story in with the intention to use it.

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19 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Now that's just taking the fun out of it!

Putting them in situations which offer difficult solutions is what a geas is all about! 

No, we did that! What we didn't have was geases being broken by things completely outside the players control (i.e. they were unconscious at the time)

Difficult decisions involving geases happened. The difficulty for the GM was providing enough content that included "geas involved" decisions and enough that didn't. Not all the players had geases and if they came up too often the players without them would start to feel as though they weren't the focus of the game - second class characters.

Balancing that is up to the GM and the players and YGWV

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On 6/16/2019 at 3:45 AM, Joerg said:

The gift/geas mechanism requires the initiate POW sacrifice, but isn't powered by it. The oath when taking the geas and the gift is an additional exchange between the worshiper and the deity (Humakt or Yelmalio). The gift is an additional presence of the deity as long as the worshiper behaves accordingly - something like a life-long quest, and in my opinion tied to the Truth Rune (as are most if not all magically powerful oaths).

And yes, that's a different interpretation of the Truth Rune than that of a Lhankor Mhy Sage, who is after the intellectual truth rather than behavioral truthfulness. Deception goes against either of these, though.

The cult initiation is not a simple oath (and neither just an elaborate one).

It is an elaborate quest into the myths of your deity, an experience of the Other Side, that culminates in the transfer of part of your soul to the Other Side domain of the deity. It is an experience which shapes the future behavioral patterns of the worshiper.

Accepting a gift and geas combination is an additional obligation provided by very few deities. This is a rite following the initiatory experience, and as many such rites will take place partially in the mundane world, partially on the Other Side.

The RQG rules book doesn't offer much (if any) information on this topic. There is plenty Gloranthan lore out there that does, though. The game rules are not a complete description of the setting.

Your argumentation comes across to me as the almost petulant demand that a car's user manual should provide you with a driver's license. The game rules of an rpg are never the final truth of the setting, but only a first approximation. They give you something to work with, something to build upon, but they don't provide you with universal official mastery of the setting.

I assisted a friend today running the Cult of Chaos convention scenario set in Runegate at our regional general rpg convention in Hamburg. It was a Gloranthan experience with  very little Gloranthan knowledge, trying to hold the learning curve not too steep. The players had no previous exposure to Glorantha and only cursory exposure to BRP, and they did struggle slightly with the data they were provided on the pregens from the Quickstart. Sitting by as an assistant rather than carrying the load of providing the story and the info dump allowed me to look at the interaction of the players with both the system and the consequences of the game world. The culture introduction was rather general, and the points of Orlanthi culture were once again somewhat lost. The players were experienced with other systems, had quite a bunch of roleplaying habits that weren't always helpful, but on occasion pointing this out was helpful to get the setting and the "gaming in society" a few steps closer. Fun was had, some seeds may have been sown.

In the real world the interaction between worshippers and gods is massively varied and impossibly contradictory. This is partly caused by the intermediary "priesthood" that tells us what god (or the gods) wants us to do, and garners power and wealth through this monopoly on gods words, and partly because there is absolutely no way of proving that god exists. With no proof every method of interacting with god has an equal (zero) result, so there is no way to determine which is the "correct" method and which isn't.

In Glorantha (or pretty much any fantasy game setting) this is not the case. The gods are real and they talk directly to us. There is no space between the god and the worshipper for a corrupt self serving priesthood to insert itself, and no room for contradictions in the interactions. For there to be any interactions at all the worshippers must have something that the god wants, and the god must have something that the worshippers want. Once that circumstance is met then an exchange can occur. In Glorantha the thing that worshippers have that the gods want is POW which is described as "a measure of an adventurers soul". What the gods have is, well pretty much everything you could ask for. Once we know what each side wants and each side has to offer, we need to determine a method and rate of exchange.

That rate of exchange is set by balancing what the worshippers are willing to pay with what the gods are willing to offer. The method of exchange is something that can be absolutely nailed down through trial and error. Combine these two points and every worshipper can know exactly what their POW is worth and exactly how the exchange is made.

The rate of exchange is going to be the same for all gods, under normal circumstances, and the method will be fixed so it is possible to document a comprehensive set of rules to govern this interaction quite quickly. There would be no possibility of uncertainty here - what works and what doesn't work will be self evident.

When we talk about gods in our fantasy words we tend to use the same language that we use in the real world to describe our various religions. This is wrong, and a trap that leads us into false assumptions. All real world religions are based on faith, which can be defined as "belief without proof". In our fantasy worlds there is no such thing as "faith" because proof of the existence of the gods is absolute and pervasive. In our fantasy worlds there can be no "religions" in the way we all think of them because there can be no faith. The cults in Glorantha are not religions, as we think of religions, they can be thought of as market stalls that advertise what a god has to offer and what they require in return. All of the goods are clearly marked with a price, and the prices on all the different stalls are pretty similar.

In general the cults are marketing tools for the gods. Each god has a sphere of influence, and a personality, and that is marketed through the cult. Worshippers are drawn to the cult whose marketing they like best, or the one which fits their ambitions best. When joining the cult the god may have trivial requirements that do not require an exchange between the god and the worshipper - don't wear blue hats in windday, or don't use silver knives etc, but anything that grants the worshipper access to the gods power must involve a transaction where POW is exchanged for the gods power.

The simplest way to reconcile geases, based on what I have said above is to require a 1 pt POW sacrifice per gift taken, in addition to the 1 pt required to advance to initiate status. Thus a Humakti would have to sac a minimum of 2 pts of POW on initiation, and would have 1 rp as a result. The extra point of POW is spent on granting the worshipper access to the gift (and any/all associated geases) and in maintaining the gods awareness of any transgressions against the agreement.

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48 minutes ago, Imryn said:

The simplest way to reconcile geases, based on what I have said above is to require a 1 pt POW sacrifice per gift taken, in addition to the 1 pt required to advance to initiate status.

I don't see how that helps. It provides at best a fig-leaf of an explanation. Q: "How does Humakt know?" A: "Because of a point of POW!" That's not an answer to me. I don't need or want an objective answer to that question.

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1 minute ago, PhilHibbs said:

I don't see how that helps. It provides at best a fig-leaf of an explanation. Q: "How does Humakt know?" A: "Because of a point of POW!" That's not an answer to me. I don't need or want an objective answer to that question.

Its a better answer than the current one - A: "because I said so, despite explicitly saying he can't know elsewhere in the rules"

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53 minutes ago, Imryn said:

Its a better answer than the current one - A: "because I said so, despite explicitly saying he can't know elsewhere in the rules"

The root of the current problem is that we have a game system with rules for a world that is inherently not rules-based (although opinions on that vary, as ever, I used to be a Hidden Variable Objectivist in my misguided youth). There will always be gaps. Gamers want rules, Glorantha doesn't work by clear rules. If you want to play in Glorantha with hard rules governing the whys and wherefores of situations like this, you will have to decide them for yourself.

Edited by PhilHibbs

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1 hour ago, Imryn said:

In Glorantha (or pretty much any fantasy game setting) this is not the case. The gods are real and they talk directly to us. There is no space between the god and the worshipper for a corrupt self serving priesthood to insert itself, and no room for contradictions in the interactions.

History shows that there is a very real possibility in Glorantha for a corrupt, self-serving priesthood or a cotery of hostile magicians to insert themselves between the worshiper and the deity.

If you look at the description of (the storm souls of) the Orlanth-initiates flying to the nearest holy mountain and on to the feasting Hall of Orlanth, you will see how the interaction between the individual and the chief of chiefs goes - it is a personal audience, wherein the worshiper presents himself and his deeds, and asks for recognition and possibly a boon or two. That much is how the regular interaction between worshiper and deity goes. Then there are the moments when the worshiper becomes the deity, casting its rune spells, but those aren't much of an information gathering, and more of a re-affirmation of the deity's deeds in the Godtime that are reflected in that rune power spell.

Finally, there is the interaction with officiating priests and god-talkers who perform divinations, summons of evil, or who initiate other heroquests.

The weekly worship services performed by the priests and the donation of magic points in such rites don't include much of a dialogue with the deity.

Now where in this model does the deity have direct contact with the worshiper? When the worshiper becomes the deity, there is of course a re-affirmation of the worshiper's compatibility, and upon occasion also the lack thereof, resulting in a failed attempt to work the deity's magic. And also in a much weaker way when the worshiper acts like the deity without relying on the rune magic.

In the case of an initiate with a permanent gift and likewise permanent geas it could be argued that there is a permanent check on this relationship, or it could be argued that it is the consciousness of the worshiper (or his realization of an invocation of the gift or the breach of the geas) that alerts the deity. And that might be where Illumination and its effectiveness in warding off reprisals or even reports of malfeasance might come in.

In the breach of a geas or the milder case of a breach of a virtue, the character removes himself a bit from the one-ness with the deity.

1 hour ago, Imryn said:

For there to be any interactions at all the worshippers must have something that the god wants, and the god must have something that the worshippers want.

Now this sounds like a passage out of a God Learner textbook how to deal with worshipers after you inserted yourself between the worshiper and the deity.

The worshipers want a re-affirmation of the cosmos, or the rightness of the cosmos. That's what they worship for, what they sacrifice some of their personal magic for. And usually, they do so with the intecession of the officiating priests/godtalkers, and probably the clan or temple wyter.

What the deity wants is a re-affirmation of the cosmos, and its role therein, through the reception of these gifts of personal magic from the World of Time. It isn't quite clear how a deity (or another being fully on the Other Side) perceives such interaction with the World of Time - possibly as an extra dimension (or a few) that provide the link to that energy. From this perspective, a sorcerer might perceive a worshiper as a pulsating line that erupts into energy transfers at regular intervals, and at some irregular spaces (times), too.

1 hour ago, Imryn said:

In Glorantha the thing that worshippers have that the gods want is POW which is described as "a measure of an adventurers soul".

Not quite correct. In the RuneQuest Glorantha rules, the mechanism for the measurement of the bond between the initiate and the cult object (usually a single deity and its aspects and servants, but other models exist, too) is the transfer of POW, generating Rune Points, and the transfer of magic points that establish and re-affirm the intersection of the World of Time and Godtime. HeroQuest Glorantha (which is as valid for simulating Glorantha as is RQG) knows neither POW nor Rune Points nor Magic Points, which means that these aren't Gloranthan currencies, but RuneQuest rules currencies.

 

1 hour ago, Imryn said:

In general the cults are marketing tools for the gods. Each god has a sphere of influence, and a personality, and that is marketed through the cult. Worshippers are drawn to the cult whose marketing they like best, or the one which fits their ambitions best. When joining the cult the god may have trivial requirements that do not require an exchange between the god and the worshipper - don't wear blue hats in windday, or don't use silver knives etc, but anything that grants the worshipper access to the gods power must involve a transaction where POW is exchanged for the gods power.

This makes a great course paper for a God Learner aiming to manipulate a group of worshipers of a deity he has learned to insert himself into. And like with the historical God Learners, it fails to account for deeper meanings only hinted at overt ritualistic activity.

This is an applicable model for a partial description of the interactions between cultists and cult subjects, but it fails on so many levels that while factually accurate it is wrong at the same time.

 

It continues in the God Learner mode. Now you have argued the world from the rules, you propose a change of those rules:

1 hour ago, Imryn said:

The simplest way to reconcile geases, based on what I have said above is to require a 1 pt POW sacrifice per gift taken, in addition to the 1 pt required to advance to initiate status. Thus a Humakti would have to sac a minimum of 2 pts of POW on initiation, and would have 1 rp as a result. The extra point of POW is spent on granting the worshipper access to the gift (and any/all associated geases) and in maintaining the gods awareness of any transgressions against the agreement.

Where does this come from? And isn't an almost unbreakable pact with Death already payment enough?

Let me repeat: RuneQuest is one way to model Glorantha, but not the only official one. There are meta-rules to RuneQuest magic, and there are reports how Gloranthan magic affects Glorantha. The two are not identical.

 

Edited by Joerg
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Firstly, I like what @Joerg wrote above...

1 hour ago, Imryn said:

and partly because there is absolutely no way of proving that god exists.

This isn't actually correct! If those gods exist, then there should be nothing stopping them from proving their existence to our satisfaction. Perhaps they're all stuck in their own Great  Cosmic Compromise?? And, of course, when you die, there will be sufficient proof...

 

1 hour ago, Imryn said:

The rate of exchange is going to be the same for all gods,

I disagree with this... but not overly important...

 

1 hour ago, Imryn said:

In Glorantha the thing that worshippers have that the gods want is POW which is described as "a measure of an adventurers soul". What the gods have is, well pretty much everything you could ask for. Once we know what each side wants and each side has to offer, we need to determine a method and rate of exchange.

This is not actually correct, as @Joerg summarised above.

It also ignores the possibility of what this entire exchange is about... If a god wants validation, and existence, then it will also need loyalty. In return for loyalty (which can be seen as a type of currency), then the god may be willing to grant extra benefits... but is going ot be extra watchful over those individuals which are given those extra benefits. The benefit is called 'Gift", and the loyalty is expressed through "geas".

 

(NB - if this isn't sufficient to make it obvious that people's POW isn't merely the only form of currency a god wants, then consider why animals are often sacrificed... or food and gifts are left "to the god". The word "sacrifice" originally meant having to give up something important to you... picking some flowers and leaving them on an altar is in no way a 'sacrifice'. However, giving up the ability to wear blue hats on Windsday would be (albeit, incredibly minor as sacrifices go...).

Q: which is the more powerful god - the one with 10,000 lay members and only 1 priest  and 5 initiates? Or the god with 5 priests, 10 initiates, and no other lay members?

 

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