Heroes and God Learning mostly

From: David Cake (davidc@cs.uwa.edu.au)
Date: Mon 20 Jan 1997 - 08:04:34 EET

        Nick points out that my ranting about how God Learning works is
only of limited truth...
        Well, yes and no.
        The God Learners secret knowledge was in some part responsible. The
RuneQuest Sight appears to be knowledge that is lost, and possibly also the
original God Learning ritual (described in Wyrms Footprints) is gone,
though I doubt the knowledge is truly gone (though now hard to find), as it
seemed very widespread. These skills made it easy for the God Learners to
collect knowledge about the heroplane, with relatively limited personal
danger (the big difference between the God Learners and the Arkati, who
collected knowledge about the heroplane at great personal risk, by simply
heroquesting a lot).

        But for the main part, the 'Secret Knowledge' of the God Learners
that they used one the quests (as opposed to for information gathering
before the quests) was simply knowledge of the monomyth/ other cultures
heroquests. The God Learners were able to try creative heroquesting with
less apparent danger than those before them (except the Arkati), because
for most heroquesters, creative heroquesting was a leap into the unknown,
but for the God Learners, it was simply a leap into another frame of

>Before the GLs, nobody did
>this; after them, there are no signs of anybody being able to do this; the
>GLs had secret knowledge, now lost, which presumably enabled them to do
>this; the world fundamentally changed at the end of the Second Age, to
>prevent people from doing this.

        I'll deal with the caveats in turn
a) before the God Learners, the Arkati did it, at least. They just did it
the hard way, so it didn't see widespread adoption.
b) if by 'this', you mean creatively heroquesting by combining knowledge
from more than one mythology to create new paths, of course they do it. If
you mean successfully following a known heroquest path to gain personal
power without the proper motivations, how do you tell if they are doing it

or not? If I'm right, they might be doing it every day and we can't really
tell (either they recognise it as God Learning and shut up, or more likely
they don't even realise its in any way unusual), and if you're right they
can't be because they'd always fail, but there is no proof either way. And
we could both be right, and its simply that everybody who does a quest for
the wrong reasons and succeeds is Illuminated, but I'm not so convinced.
c) the world fundamentally changed at the end of the Second Age? Well, I've
always been sceptical about this, and feel the burden of proof lies on

those who believe it, so go ahead and burden me. I definately agree the
world had changed to make it a lot harder, by virtue of having Gift
Carriers, Knowledge Assassins, enraged Waertagi ghosts, and hordes of
anti-Godlearner fanatics in it, which certainly does make things difficult,
but I don't think that was what you meant.

        And yes, Nick, we are at risk of missing the point on the Androcles
story. If Peter had argued that a character couldn't aid the lion because
he was simply terrified of it, even if he wanted to act mercifully, then I
would have been a lot more sympathetic - but then we would have been in
danger of missing Eriks original point instead.

Peter on God Learning
>The God Learners were not callously exploitative
>_per_ _se_ since they were above that.

        I think the original God Learners where often callous, but they had
reasons beyond the simply exploitative. And their callousness was probably
in part a difference in attitude - the God Learners might callously
slaughter some inhabitants of the heroplanes because they truly felt they
were mere symbols (which is part of their error - they are symbols, but
nothing mere about it).

>They could be cruel or kind
>whenever they chose, but it was a charade, a special mercurial mimicry
>which they had discovered.

        'mercurial mimicry' sounds more like Illumination, which I think
was a small part of the God Learner arsenal, though sometimes an important
part. I think its more that by maintaining some distance between themselves
and the cultures of the heroquest paths that they were exploiting, they
gave themselves a wider freedom to interpret events. Nicks idea that
Malkioni do not name beings encountered on heroquests is something similar.

        Regarding David Dunhams Enchanted Bags - in my game, where the
players are busy collecting Winds in order to slay a (presumed) dragon that
has captured the rain, I just assumed that the 'winds' are sylphs for
magical purposes, and the bag is thus a bag enchanted to hold four sylphs
(only the winds from the four quarters go into the bad, the other winds
have their own containers). The difference being that it can hold anything
that counts as a 'wind', whether its a sylph in game terms or not.

ZZ Zombies
>Maybe, at the GM's decision, how pious a ZZer was reduces the POW
>sacrifice (ergo, a pious troll might only need a 1 point sacrifice, while
>a cowardly one might need a 5 point sacrifice).

        Not everything needs to come down to behaviour so explicitly. The
personality trait thing can be taken to far, gloranthan magic is not one
giant behaviourist system for creating appropriate worshippers.
        I think the POW sacrifice needed to create a zombie, like many
other ZZ ritual magics, can be reduced by sacrificing captives. Which does
indeed reward Cruel ZZers, but not unreasonably.

        And Peters explanation for the true virtues of being eaten by the
bat is simply glorious!


End of Glorantha Digest V4 #103

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