[Glorantha]Re: Using mystic powers

From: Julian Lord <jlord_at_free.fr>
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 2004 10:57:12 +0200

Mikko :

>Unfortunately I can't
>claim to have a working understanding on the esoteric concepts of
>mysticism. Too much logic, classical philosophy and western metaphysics in
>my head.
The closest Glorantha comes to a western mysticism, so not incompatible with these beliefs, is the Hrestoli doctrine of Joy of the Heart. In this doctrine, logic, rational philosophy, and western metaphysics are no longer goals per se, but means to acheive, produce, and spread Joy in this life and in the afterlife. The goal of the western mystic is to work for a Joyful Cosmos, which is similar enough to most Eastern mysticisms that the western mystic can have some understanding of them ; and Joy of the Heart is also similar enough to basic western philosophy that the western non-mystic can understand it, intellectually at least.

Hope this helps.

>Julian writes:
>:It's basically a Fear of the World that the Jedi Master transcends,
>:giving him the power over physical reality that you suggest.
>:Real mysticism (tm), AFAIK, goes far, far beyond that relatively simple
>Fascinating stuff Julian, but at the moment rought ideas of their
>skills and abilities would be more important than the philosofical and
>metaphysical truths.
Hmmm, IMO here's exactly why rules for mysticism are so hard to write ... The whole point about mysticism (in Glorantha anyway, and usually in RW too) is that it's defined by mystical insights, metaphysics, and philosophy, rather than skeptical rationality and/or game rules (as such) ...

As someone suggested (Simon IIRC), the game rules for mystical practices and powers (or "powers") wouldn't be so different from the rules for the other magic systems ... the difficulty lies in presenting mysticism - even low-level mystic practices - in such a way that Joe Roleplayer and Bill Narrator will actually be able to play mystic characters as intended by the game designers.

>How do you see the jedi "mind over reality"
>disciplines in this. A useful analogy?
Hmmm, let's keep this Gloranthan, and posit an order of Eastern warrior monks, let's call them the Bendu <SW geek grin>, and let them have a rival splinter order of ex-Bendu, the Ashwa, who have given in to Fear.


In practical terms, the powers of the Bendu would be defined in HQ terms, pretty simply.

The difference between the Bendu and the Ashwa would be that the Ashwa fear the world and its powers, focus on their own powers and magic as a means of defense against and control of these forces, hence are unable to transcend the narrow limitations of their own distorted worldview. In game terms, as a result of this, they would most likely concentrate their magic, even if it were Self Magic, and cut themselves off from the Ultimate Transcendental (thereby gaining 1/2 HP costs, proving the dictum that the Dark Side is always the fast and easy path to power).

The Bendu OTOH would always seek awareness that people are created as a dichotomy of Self and Cosmos, and that the Self is but one expression of that Cosmos, and seek to become servants of that Mystery ; to intervene in the World with the purpose of manifesting the transcendental Will that created them. They would certainly not concentrate their magic, which would be to sever the Self from the Cosmic Flow, and would always seek to overcome the limitations of Self, of Fear, of Ignorance. They would have to be roleplayed as a combination of meditation (that is, the player would have to spend a lot of time actually meditating himself !) to discover the Will of the other players, the NPCs, the Narrator, the Will of the World, and of decisive, fearless Action where the player would seek to make that Will manifest, selflessly and with no further thought about the rightness of the Action, but about the efficient means to acheive its success.

This form of low-level mysticism would not sever the character from the world and its other inhabitants, as they are themselves manifestations of the Cosmic Mystery, so that the friendships and worldly affairs of a Bendu monk may be designed by the Cosmos AKA the Narrator to help the monk, and others (including his personal friends and enemies) acheive Enlightenment.

In a game, the Bendu monk would advance along the mystic path through rules-lite story-based roleplaying, and when certain mystic insights are gained in the game as well as in story terms, by the character (or the player !), the Narrator would reward the character with free Abilities, extra Hero Points, free Ability points ("Your selfless and generous actions during the Battle of a Hundred Elephants show that your character has mastered and transcended his fear of being turned into hamburger by enraged herds of gigantic, razor-tusked war bulls. Add +10 to your main Martial Arts discipline."). Such large gains should be used sparingly by the Narrator of course, among other things to ensure that the slowly advancing Bendu monk is kept up to speed with the other, non-mystic, PCs who have a 1/2 HP cost benefit for their own more worldy magics.

This isn't a rules system for mysticism as a whole ; merely for one particular form of low-level mysticism. It's a pretty rough outline to boot, as there would have to be some sort of system where the Narrator would test the monk's Fear and impose some sort of balanced penalties if the player and character failed the test. Much rules copy containing advice to players and narrators would be desirable.

Anyway, the obvious Star Wars parallels would make such characters playable, even though the player attitudes appropriate to roleplaying such a character could easily be misunderstood by other gamers ("What are you doing, John ? They're being slaughtered out there !!" - " I can only protect you, I can't fight a war for you ! Now shut up, Jim, you're ruining my morning meditatation ... ") ...

>I don't need the deepest truths about mysticism. I just need to know
>roughly what this campaign shaping NPC can do.
Whatever you want. He's a fallen mystic, so whatever powers he has are by definition worldly ones.

All you need to do is assign the Ability Numbers that you feel comfortable with.

>There's also his young swordsman apprentice, that one of the player heroes
>is currently seeking. So I also need to know what kind of magic (and
>attitudes) this junior mystic has.
Worldy ones, by definition. The only question is whether this apprentice has the potential to learn true mysticism, or not.

Julian Lord

"Hmmm, I've heard of other powers. 
Can you tell me about ...

... Real Life ?"


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Received on Sat 17 Apr 2004 - 06:26:07 EEST

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