Independent Magicians

Date: Fri 29 Dec 1995 - 18:30:59 EET

Glorantha has no magic. It has stuff _called_ magic, but almost all of it is
religious ceremonies and prayers, or at least divinely sanctioned.
magic, according to O'Keefe's _Stolen Lightning_, does things for individuals
outside the sanction of religion. There has to be magic in Glorantha,
though, because it's part of the human condition. So it must be simply a
failure of the published sources.

There are independent magicians in the real Glorantha, though precious few in
described sources. (The only ones I know which are even mentioned are the
"unaligned sorcerers," the alchemists, and witches, all very vague groups.)
 There have to be independent magicians to perform the various magical acts
people need done.

For one thing, there's not nearly enough divination in Glorantha. Our world
is full of diviners. In the U.S., you can't drive down the road without
seeing a palmist's office. To paraphrase O'Keefe (I don't have the book
handy), the palmist is not there to amuse tourists; she is a diviner
practicing an art with its roots in the Neolithic. Where are all the
diviners of Glorantha? Divination is a 1 point divine spell, obviously not
suited to the high volume practice a diviner needs. I'd peg the Divination
spell as being the most reliable, flexible, and presitigious form of
divination, but hardly the only one.

Do you have to ask a priest or shaman if you want to put a curse on someone?
 What if the cursee is someone who supports the same priest or shaman? Do
you give up then? Nah, you just go to your local witch.

There are other areas of magic where independent magicians thrive, though
priests and other group-oriented persons also do this kind of work, besides
divination and black magic: medical magic, ceremonial magic, exorcism, occult
sciences, and thaumaturgical societies (which often evolve into new
religions). Many of these are dominated by what we'd call superstitions and
folk beliefs.

I suggest that independent magicians are all around in Glorantha. These are
the people who perform magic for a fee or a favor, or for a little local
prestige. The Keeper of Dire Secrets in an Imtherian village is no

priestess, but she knows things that no priest or priestess knows and she can
give you a charm to do what you need done. In the back of an Alchemist's
shop in Pavis there's a cubicle where you can consult with a man who has a
book of divination. Among the Rathori, there are people who might be
shamans, but they don't lead the Bear God ceremonies. Etc.

I'm not suggesting that "independent magician" is a good template for player
characters, at least for beginning players. But it makes a great NPC.
 Independent magicians have access to a few neat things beyond the ability of
ordinary persons. They're usually specialists. One guy may do nothing but
divorces (breaking the magical oath of matrimony without bringing retribution
on the heads of the husband and wife). Another may only tell you where to
build a house and how to align it with the lines of force. I'm sure other
readers of the digest can suggest other specialties.

- --Martin


End of Glorantha Digest V2 #298

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