Re: [Glorantha]Broos at Moonbroth

From: Andrew Dawson <>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2004 17:58:07 -0600

First of all, I'd like to apologize to this list for the tone of my original post (not the disbelief or the questioning).

Second, I'm trying to assertain the extent to which the immanence of religion (which may be equivalent to the immanence of magic) affects the behavior of Gloranthans. I do not think that Gloranthans are as quick to ignore their religions as are people historically in our world. I am not saying that it was impossible that Praxians recruited broos for Moonbroth, but I am saying that I think such an action--if contrary to the religion followed by those Praxians--had repercussions due to that religion.

If I am wrong, then why? Here are some scenarios I can think of: 1. The Praxian Tradition has ways to use Chaos. (Seems odd if Waha is the son of Storm Bull.)
2. The Praxian Tradition doesn't have repercussions for dealing with Chaos. (Storm Bull again)
3. Those Praxians were sacrificing their religious ties for a pragmatic gain. (actually not wrong in this case, but MGF potential leads me to mention this)
4. We don't know and/or maybe it didn't happen; YGMV. (Suggested by Chris Lemens, but this avoids the basic question of how Gloranthan religion works.) 5. Something else. What?

I realize that the question of Praxian-broo cooperation at Moonbroth may not be answerable, but the questions I raised should be. I'm also not just doing this as a pointless academic exercise. The two things I stress about HeroQuest and Glorantha at the demos I run are: 1) the narrative system with an objective conflict resolution system, and 2) the immanence of religion and magic (and the repercussions thereof). I think the repercussions thereof is very important to making the Glorantha setting attractive because there are many fantasy settings with something pseudo-historical with magic added. If Glorantha is yet another one of those, who is going to care? (I'm not saying it is, but I'm trying to justify this line of questioning.)

Further discussion of the basic question of how Gloranthan religion works below:

At 08:38 PM 2/17/2004 +1300, Peter Metcalfe wrote:
>Andrew Dawson:
>>Please do tell. I'm afire with the desire to discover the real world
>>religion that
>>offers something more than hope, faith, and fellowship.
>Why is faith not sufficient? Your whole argument is essentially that since RW

>people didn't experience magic, they had a much freer reign to disobey the
>dictates of their faith than would gloranthans. IMO this is a
>nonsense. In the
>Good Old Days without Science-to-explain-Everything, people lived in a world
>of Thunderstorms, Plague, Famine, Evil Stars in the Heavens, Sun Darkenings,
>Moons turning Blood Red, two-headed calves being born, roosters laying eggs
>etc. They didn't ascribe to a belief that these were purely natural
>events but
>believed these were evidence of the supernatural. From there, it is no great
>leap to believe that the holy works are literally true and all the events
>therein really happened. Despite this background, many people (even those

>had religious visions) still worked with their theological opponents from
>time to
>time and even the oldest gloranthan sources mention gloranthans doing similar
>[snip part of my original message]
>I dunno why you consider communion services not to be masses but it is
>a good example of a RW magical event and an inspiration for Malkioni
>religious practices. It is the real presence of magic that validates most
>religious teachings in glorantha, not the otherworld trips that are performed
>by the pious (and the Orlanthi).

(I'm dropping the mass/communion distinction as irrelevant to the overall discussion--even though I mentioned it first--see various catechisms for more info.)

  1. I agree that mass/communion is an example of real world magic, but it does not produce a visible blessing as does the Western sorcery church blessing (since all Gloranthan magic is noticeable). This our-world magic produces a blessing that one must believe in solely by faith, hope, or fellowship (which includes social pressure). This our-world magic does not produce a magical blessing that even non-believers can detect with their senses. This is not an argument for or against the reality of our-world religion or magic; I am only looking at the demonstrable-to-the-senses part of magic. Do we agree on this?
  2. In our world, there is no compelling religious/magic effect that can be sensed by anyone, to show that it is real. This leaves faith, hope, and fellowship as reasons to believe. In Glorantha, non-believers can sense the efficacy of the blessing/magic. Denying it is denying the evidence of the senses. (I'm sure people can do this, but it's not the rational response.) There is no need for faith (and no Faith abilities for any Glorantha religion types, IIRC) in order to believe, though there are Piety abilities used to access the magic of the Gloranthan faiths. (In Lutheranism and Catholicism, there is salvation by faith, and blessings from the grace of God--no need for anything else, no piety required by the "liturgist," and no visible-to-all magic.) Do we agree on this (I'm willing to drop the parenthetical example to reach this agreement)?
  3. Glorantha: Short of hypothetical Illumination, Seven Mothers Church protection, etc., if one turns from one's religion, one (and maybe one's community) suffers demonstrable effects, such as Agents of Retribution. These effects are noticeable by others and can affect the community. Our world: Natural disasters and misfortune can be explained as punishment from god, but there is plenty of ability to change religions with no non-social effects. This allows one to pay lip service to one's religion and concentrate on pragmatic (commercial, political, etc.) concerns that act against one's religion, with no repercussions. One can be rationally cynical about the reality of one's deity and the truth of one's religion.
  4. Glorantha: One cannot rationally deny the reality and power of another religion, though one can oppose it for other reasons. I realize that in the West, Orlanth can be seen to be a wayward sorcerer posing as a god, but that doesn't invalidate his real power. He cannot rationally be dismissed as not being real. Real World: One can rationally deny the reality of any creed. This does not mean that the denier is correct, but proving him incorrect relies on faith, hope, and fellowship, not demonstrable-to-all effects (unless one happens to have natural disasters or personal misfortune working with them, as occasionally--not reliably--does happen).
  5. Our world superstition: Sure, I believe that there is and was superstition in the world, but I also believe that humans have always been able to change their beliefs and proclaim belief without meaning it (with no noticeable-to-all repercussions). I believe that there have always been people questioning the reality of religions. I also believe that people like Holy Roman Emperors who collaborated with Lutherans could do so without needing to violate personal interpretations of the reality of their religions (meaning that I don't assume that they truly believed or acted like they did). There is no need to assume that religion was the main reason for Reformation era wars between factions of different religions (political and commercial reasons suffice to explain why; religion can be relegated to a pretext).
  6. If any of the proceeding points are correct, I expect observant, rational Gloranthans to act differently toward their religions than has presently or historically been the case in our world. Irrationality, Illumination, intercession from other religions can affect this, so can desire to survive and weighing of benefits. However, I expect Gloranthans to act with more religious fervor because to do otherwise is irrational. This is different from our world, where religious faith is more often tested by rational investigation (because it relies on faith, hope, and fellowship, not perceiving magic).
  7. As mentioned recently by Simon Hibbs, in Glorantha, one can still abandon one's faith and religious type because there are other demonstrably effective religions, but there are still repercussions.



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End of Glorantha Digest Received on Wed 18 Feb 2004 - 00:04:25 EET

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