heroes and stuff

From: Jeff Richard (jrichard@cnw.com)
Date: Fri 17 Jan 1997 - 21:40:16 EET


Howdy gang,

        I thought I'd just chime in briefly on the ever-present "heros &
heroquesting" conversation.

        Currently, my band of Orlanthi carls (Pam Carlson, David Dunham, Dave
Pearton & Neil Robinson) are trying to cast themselves into one of
Orlanth's "Clever Warrior" myths in order to defeat one of their clan's
(many) enemies. Since, most of my players routinely monitor the Digest, I
don't want to give much away suffice to say that their mythic role defines
how they expect to behave and, too some extent, it defines their likely
interaction with the world.

        Okay, that's kind of lofty myth-babble, so let's put it more in game
terms. If a bunch of players from a culture want to do some sort of
complicated, non-routine task, I generally expect that they justify their
behavior by linking it to their culture's myths. If they have a problem
with broo raping their cattle, the players think something like - "Broo are
Chaos. When did Chaos stalk the land? The Great Darkness. How did
Orlanth figure out how to stop Chaos? Umm. . . he performed the Summons of
Evil Ceremony. Okay, let's try to do a Summons of Evil Ceremony." [see
David Dunham's Taming of Dragon Pass page on the web for more of this sort
of stuff].

        If the players can justify their behavior, then I tend to let them go
forward. If they can't, well, that doesn't happen very often with my
rather talented players. Let's just say that if they can't, its usually a
recipe for disaster. If they survive the disaster - maybe that's grounds
for a very localized sub-cult or regional hero worship.

        At least in my campaign, the cults of Glorantha are defined by the actions
and paths of their cultic heroes. These heroes expand or contract the
definition of their god, the god's role in the world, etc. Folk initiated
into these paths use these actions and paths as a guide for their own lives
- - sort of a form of analogous reasoning.

        So what does this have to do with Harrek? Well first, if I was going to
throw the Big Berserk into my campaign, I would try to get my characters to
come up with a mythic understanding of Harrek. What is he to the
characters - is he a wayward son of Vadrus (their usual interpretation of
hostile "folk-like-us", best exemplified by King Malan's son Erland), or is
he Urox (fearsome driven warrior who fights our greatest foe but is also
willing to fight us), or is he Humakt (cruel and inflexible warrior whose
life is defined by war), or is something altogether else - Gagarth, the
Evil Emperor, Ragnaglar, whatever? If the players as a member of a culture
view Harrek to be Vadrus returned - well, that's going to taint the way
they deal with him. That is the key to interacting with heroes - figure
out "who they are" and respond accordingly.

        Sure, Harrek can be vanquished - Vadrus was finally killed by the Gods War
as y'all recall. But what of our Esrolian heroine who does him in? Well,
certainly the Esrolian Babs Gor cult has myths of BG killing the fearsome
foe who threatens BG's kin. Let's say our heroine manages to walk that
path and let's assume that Harrek doesn't have a "rip into thousands of
little bits upity young defender" myth of his own. Assume Harrek is fried
- - what happens to our heroine? She is now a HERO of BG, with her own "kill
foreign warrior" heropath. Furthermore, for at least her own people, the
cult of BG has changed, if just a little bit (actually killing Harrek would
probably count as a BIG CHANGE). A hundred dedicated initiates have
channeled power and parts of their soul to her in order to kill Harrek -
that sacrifice could be seen as a second initiation. Further, they were
Mindlinked to our heroine - they experience what their "goddess"
experiences. Voila - instant sub-cult with a PC in the uncomfortable
position of being a "worshipped avatar" of BG!

        Of course the more likely outcome is that the BG priestess plays her
"Stomp Foreign Warrior" heropath and Harrek cheats. See, as a GM I think I
know what heropath Harrek is walking - the Trickster in his Destructive
aspect. Ain't life a bitch.

Yours truly,

Jeff Richard

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