Argh! ZZ, Trickster, and my crappy modem...

From: James Frusetta (
Date: Sat 11 Jan 1997 - 01:32:54 EET

Argh! <Smite Macintosh> The local line noise decided it would be a fine
thing to toss out that last message befored I'd finished it. See? A
thread on trickster comes up, and this stuff starts happening... Apologies
for the inconvenience of having to tack on the following to the _last_

Chris Lemens suggests "rokomal" as the name of the Uz trickster.
Great! I like it. The only problem might be that it might translate as
"nose hurting lopers" in Dark Tongue. <g>

Peter Michaels made some interesting and thoughtful points towards ZZ
being regarded as the uz Trickster. Unfortunately, ZZ overheard, and
smacked my phone line around. Please add:

+back off. I think humor plays a part in this. In terms of allowing the
losers a mechanism to back down. Maybe that's one of the positive things
Trickster does, facilitiates this kind of trollish interaction. Any
thoughts? I'm thinking that, for example, the use of crude humor amongst
trolls provides a conflict mechanism below that of violence but I'm out of
my depth in all this pseudo-psychology business. <g> On a mythic level,
maybe some of the, er, goofier KS geases ("Wait! Before we attack the Elf
stronghold, I must slay that sheep for my priestess!") were placed on him
once ZZ gained dominance as the uz war god -- rather than a bloody
inter-troll conflict, Karrg was forced to assume geases that symbolically
show ZZ has the upper hand. (IMO, KS are among the more geas-restricted
rune levels -- I can count at least 12, in addition to standard KL
and racial restrictions. And they're all at least a _little_ goofy, <g>,
which has always been a cultural and role-playing plus in my book).

+IMO, ZZ is _not_ a creator deity, nor is he a fool, or a rogue, or an
illusionist, or a shapeshifter: he's Scary Monster with added bells and

whistles. He's also a late-comer, coming into full bloom after he swipes
Death -- either we're missing a fair bit of the legend and myths before
this (BTW, the story about his plans to kill Light is a decent Trickster
myth, if stripped-down), or he's not the whole picture. Shouldn't the
trickster figure show up earlier, as it were? Or did Ratslaff provide the,
er, "tricksterism" for the uz before ZZ rose in prominance? These are
nitpicks: I quite like your description of him as a trickster, but I don't
think he's the _complete_ trickster (more on that below). Another nitpick
is that you could make some of the same arguments about Urox (disliked but
needed, etc.), but Eurmal and Urox are considered to be quite distinct by
the Orlanthi. But that's just a nitpick -- I think you could make a good
case that ZZ and Urox aren't necessarily comparable in those terms.

I might toss some semi-heretical thoughts at this point.

#1) Maybe trolls don't even _have_ a trickster deity. Either they split
up aspects between different gods, they never needed one, or they don't
have one as "complete" as Eurmal. Who knows? I don't think this is true,
but it depends how different you think the uz psyche is. Maybe they're

categorically disinterested in comparing the subuz and superuz, or their
minds work so differently we don't understand how they use trickster.
<shrug> But that's a cop-out. ;)

#2) Maybe ZZ is the Trickster, and there ain't nothing more to him that
what we've seen. He's a very primitive trickster, primarily because the
trolls didn't need a trickster figure in Wonderhome (because of the innate
superiority of their culture, of course, before Yelm fouled things up.

#3) #2, with an added complication. Maybe Rokomal is essentially Eurmal,
adopted into trollish society _because_ their trickster doesn't partake in
the lightharded fun that Eurmal does (ZZ isn't long on the funny side) or
because ZZtT doesn't provide all the needed, er, "return" or "benefit" of
a trickster deity that trolls found they needed once their culture
underwent a major shock: the exodus from Wonderhome after Yelm turned it
into Hell. It seems like there are several other deities that undergo
major revision at this point: ZZ rises & Karrg sinks, Zong probably takes
shape, Annilla is discovered, Argan Argar is born, Gorakiki rebels and
thrives, (?Xentha changes? Or does this occur witht he onset of time?),
etc. I think this suggests in part that trollish culture _needed_ new
skills, gods and societal structures they'd never needed in Wonderhome.

Rokomal's a graft on trollish society that any respecting God Learner
would splice back into Eurmal. He's also a distinctly _surface_
manifestation, which would help to explain why he's not in any of the
Wonderhome-era myths. He was brought to the trolls by the humans and
others who embraced Darkness during the Godstime Troubles, and integrated
after that period. He was kept because he gave _some_ beneficial aspects
- -- I mentioned one above, the idea that he helped keep inter-troll
conflict limited. There are probably others. And after 1500 years,
Rokomal has been effectively, er, uzkopomorphized.

ZZ, the primal troll trickster figure, couldn't or wouldn't provide these
benefits because he was suddenly thrust into prominance _and_ his primary,
Scary Monster-like attributes were so useful.

This would also help to explain some of the discrepencies between myths --
e.g., that Zoran had the Great Imp (Rokomal) steal Death, or that he trade
a handful of sweets to Eurmal for it. Maybe the difference
stems from when the myth was created -- after or before Rokomal/Eurmal was

adopted into uz society. It'd also help to explain ZZ a little -- when
they reach the surface, the Trickster aspects of ZZ might receed under
human influence as a "widely worshipped deity at the dawning" among the
non-uz. Since humans see him as a war god, I'd think they'd downplay his
trickster side ("I am a stern follower of the Lord God of the Legions of
Death. But my mace doubles as a whoopee cushion! Wheee!" <g>) because they

wouldn't understand the trollish nature of it.yd.-}

James Frusetta
Department of History University of Maryland, College Park


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