Re: Sandy's Prax

From: Sandy Petersen (
Date: Thu 30 May 1996 - 20:52:01 EEST

Chris Pearce

>[Sandy] said that Waha's magic made most two-legs smart and left
most four-legs >stupid. If everyone is stupid, then how can anyone
        You are reasoning in a too-civilized humanocentric fashion.
Praxians live close to their beasts, and they know just how smart
an animal can be. No one would argue that their beast is "stupid" --
well, at least not as a species -- certainly some bisons are dumber
than others.
        Beasts are keenly sensitive to other creatures' emotions,
reason logically, make choices, feel guilt, befriend other beasts,
etc. Many parts of their existence are controlled by powerful
instincts, but so are we -- we just mask our instinctual
predelictions with the face of reason.
        To a Praxian, it's not ridiculous to suppose that the
various animals all worked together with Waha nor that they are
intelligent even today -- though only humans have the gift of
speech, and our intelligence appears to be, in many ways, now
superior to the beasts'.
        Of course, the sub-humans from outside Prax usually lack
the gift of speech, though many have cobbled together some
ramshackle gibberish in imitation of the Praxian tongue, and can
even communicate with one another, after a fashion. A few such
sub-humans, notably Issaries folk, have even learned to speak real
language, and so are technically human -- at least as human as an
awakened herdman.

>In traveling on foot through Prax, our group encountered a group of
>morokanth that outnumbered us six to four. <a duel ensued> I
suppose the >morokanth decided that we were therefore real people
and let us be.
>I was always kind of shocked that the morokanth didn't shoot first
and ask >questions later. I always felt that the morokanth
definition of "herd man" was >"any human unlucky enough to get
captured by a morokanth."
>How would things have gone in Sandy's campaign?
        I don't know enough about the situation to evaluate what
I'd have done. Certainly the morocanth in my campaign are intended
to be frightening and brutal (though the PCs have not met any in
actual play -- partly because I want to build up the morocanths'
sinister aspect). I can easily envision a number of reasons why six
morocanth wouldn't attack a group of 4 humans on sight, but instead
challenge them to a duel first. Here ensue some:
        1) WE'RE TOO BUSY -- The morocanth were traveling, or hot
on some business more important to them than capturing random humans
met en route. Of course, they wouldn't pass up a chance to prove
their toughness, and since the humans were willing to parley, a duel
seemed like a good way to show off. Since the humans demonstrated
their subservience by healing the injured morocanth, there was no
need to rub their faces further into the dung.
        2) WE'RE TOO COWARDLY -- The morocanth were nervous about
fighting 4 humans, when there were only 6 morocanth. Sure they
outnumbered them, and were probably individually tougher, but think
about it -- would a band of a half-dozen humans normally attack four
shadow cats? Or in the real world would you and six buddies try to
kill four coyotes or feral cats you saw in a vacant lot? Without a
good reason? One or more of the morocanth might get hurt. Better to
wait until there is overwhelming strength.
        3) WE'RE NOT SURE OF OURSELVES -- The morocanth wanted to
fight, but weren't sure just how tough the humans were. So they
thought that fighting a duel would be a good way to measure the
human's fighting quality. Presumably if the human's blustering
berserker was readily trounced, they'd then ambush the rest of the
party, regardless of promises made earlier (after all -- Morocanth
_cheat_), and take them captive. When the Storm Bull proved able to
fight their best warrior to a standstill, and _then_ it turned out
that the humans had a healer with them (a significant combat
advantage), the morocanth saved face and chickened out at the same
time -- killing two birds with one stone.
        4) WE'LL PROVE WE'RE PEOPLE -- the morocanth in the area
are trying to make political points with nearby humans -- perhaps
they have made a treaty with the local impala tribe in which they
promised not to kidnap humans until the treaty is over. Or perhaps
they are trying to prove their goodwill to someone (The Lunars? A
Paps priestess? A Pavis ruler?)
        5) WE'RE TOO ISOLATED -- perhaps the morocanth didn't have
their slave shackles with them, or they were several days' journey
from their clan, and didn't want to be encumbered with new slaves
for such a long trip.
        6) IT'S ALL A TRICK -- perhaps the morocanth want to lull
the visiting humans into a feeling of safety ("Hey, these morocanth
aren't so bad.") hoping that after a year or two the non-Praxian
visitors to the area will become rather lax and trusting, _then_ the
morocanth can organize a series of slaving strikes and get a real

Someone (now I don't remember who) opined that he didn't think that
the morocanth would normally turn a human's family members into
herd men, just to blackmail him. It depends. The morocanth have more
than one reason to turn folks into herd men. Sure, it takes a point
of POW, but your typical morocanth generates at least that much in
a year. When you consider that the total number of humans turned
into herd men is far less than the total number of morocanth, it is
no longer so unreasonable. Anyway, here follow some reasons to

transform family into herd men.
        1) The slave is really valuable, and they can't or won't
physically cripple him for some reason. A healer, for instance,
would be very valuable, and well worth 3-4 POW to enslave forever.
Or a scribe. Or redsmith.
        2) The herds need upgrading. A particularly fine specimen
of a man or woman will often be used for stud or breeding mares.
Such an individual suffers far less psychic stress and lives longer
if he is turned into an animal first -- plus he doesn't try to
escape any longer. Formerly real humans are almost invariably
healthier and physically superior to a long-term herd man, who pass
their peak in their early twenties. So true humans revitalize the
stock -- without periodic influxes of new blood, the slave herds
would have deteriorated into worthlessness long ago.
        3) Terrorism. It is hard to imagine a fate more fearsome to
a typical Praxian than being transformed into a beast and taken by
the morocanth. Since the morocanth do this on a fairly regular
basis, and typically publicize the event (for instance, capturing a
khan and his men, making the men watch the khan's transformation,
then freeing them to spread the story), all Praxians know horror
stories of the terrible fates awaiting such transformations (such as
finding your wife's wedding jewelry in a piece of mock pork sold in
Pavis). This fear has an effect on the Praxians -- sometimes a band
of Praxians refrains from harming a band of morocanth out of fear
of reprisals. this may not happen very often -- perhaps not even one
time in ten. But it still has its effect, and from a strictly
objective viewpoint, is probably better for overall morocanth
survival than either killing or ransoming their prisoners.
        4) Cruelty. The morocanth are not an empathic and caring folk.

So ... do _all_ prisoners suffer seeing their family turned into
herd beasts. No. Would I stay in line if this was _threatened_, let
alone performed? You bet.

Sandy P.


End of Glorantha Digest V2 #608

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