Re: Free Will, Berserkers

From: Paolo Guccione (
Date: Tue 21 Jan 1997 - 22:12:00 EET

David Cake

> the dead have no
> free will - your dead spirit can't just hoon off and bug your friends to
> resurrect you, it has to go to the Courts of Silence like all the others,
> unless you are a hero with previously prepared tricks up your sleeve).

This is also true of Ghosts and Wraiths, because they stay in or about
the Land of the Living under the effect of one geas or strong emotion.
So if we assume, as many have done in the last issues, that obligations
and overwhelming emotions limit Free Will, then these creatures still
act on the mundane plane, but have no Will of their own although they
have Intelligence and purposes.

> And the exception that proves the rule is the Red Goddess, who was
> able to change her cosmic role dramatically, and certainly had free will at
> one stage, unique among deities. She accomplished this only by being reborn
> as a mortal, and then rebuilding her heroquest paths anew. Other religions
> rely on heroes to change them.

Hmmm... I thought the RG was able to change her path because she was not
bound to the Great Compromise at that time. Gods lost their Free Will
when they accepted to be bound by Arachne Solara's web, as I can
remember. But the RG had to struggle to be accepted as a goddess, and so
enter the Compromise. Probably the fact that she spent part of her
existence as a mortal is one of the major causes of her being out of the
GC. She now relies on Heroes to change things, but I suspect she has
left a whole lot of them behind in order to do this before her
There are two more examples of gods who had Free Will: Arkat and Nysalor
(or are they ONE example?). Arkat definitely had Free Will as a mortal,
but what now? What is going to happen when he returns to fulfil the
Prophecies of the Hero Wars? Will he be a God who cannot leave his
established path (and what is it, in the end?), or will he be a mortal
again, able to change things as he sees fit?
As for Nysalor, he did change myth in a permanent way, since he wounded
Korasting ( a goddess ) and cursed Kyger Litor. The Curse of Kin must be

in effect on a mythical plane, because the Uz have resorted to Heroquest
to try and remove it. Note also that the sun stopped, breaking the GC,
to allow Nysalor to be born, so he was out of the Solara's web, at least
at start. But now he is a God, though with few organized worshipers, I
suspect, thus within the boundaries of the Compromise.

Nick Brooke

> The implication seems to be that a ZZ berserk killed in battle will
> continue to fight as a zombie: maybe their Berserk spell (and a
> ZZ-specific Zombie description) could be rewritten to make this
> the case.

I have already declared myself in favour of cult-specific changes in
shared spells, so Nick's suggestion is welcome. However, before
suggesting any spell specialization, a good description of the mind
status of berserkers from different cults would be a good idea. Here are
my own ideas about the subject.

If I remember correctly, there are three cults that have access to the
Berserk spell: Humakt, Storm Bull and Zorak Zoran. All of them are of
course associated with the Death Rune. If I have left some cults out,
please tell me.

The archetipal berserker is probably the Storm Buller. His battle frenzy
comes from the beast rune and the air rune in its aspect of raw,
uncontrollable violence. This makes me think that their strength should
increase when berserk, like Basmoli. But of course his rage comes from
another element, too: hate for chaos. I suspect that many SB use the
berserker status to counter the natural fear of spiritual and material
annihilation that a warrior faces when confronting Bad Chaos. Uroxi do
not normally fear death, but the perspective of being taken alive by Bat
food-gatherers or thanatari can scare even the bravest. Not to mention
the nullification of the mesmeric powers of some chaos horrors: have you
ever tried to enthrall or befuddle a berserker?

Zorak Zorani, OTOH, do not become unstoppable fighting machines because
of desire for violence: as trolls, violence is already their normal
behaviour. Their berserker status comes out of _death_ bramosy, both
their enemies' and theirs. I think ZZ are the most incline to mistake
friend for foes during battle rage, because they enter in a state of
hate for all the living. The ZZ probably considers himself doomed when
he goes berserk, and is very happy to go meet his God and leave his body
behind to contine the fight when his life slips away. Nick's suggestion
of the ZZ turning into a zombie during the very fight that kills him is
intriguing. Maybe a successful DI is needed instead of a revised Berserk
spell, making successful creation of a zombie automatic for Death Lords
but not for initiates.

Humakti rarely go berserk. When they do, they experience extreme bravery
and incapacity to retreat instead of uncontrolled frenzy. Their
association with the Truth rune prevents them from mistaking friends for
foes, and they should show a honorable behaviour even when berserk.

IMHO, some of the benefits of the berserker status should not apply to
Humakti, while they could be immune to some of the drawbacks. For
instance, they could still be feeling the ill effects of fatigue, and
they could be able to use Death Magic against their foes.

The Basmoli are described as berserkers although they have no battle
frenzy magic. However, they increase their strength in battle. This
comes from their association with the beast rune. If we base the
description of the Basmoli on GoG, that's all. OTOH, if Basmol is in
fact associated with the death rune they may well enter true berserk
status. Maybe they were able to do so before their god was slain. I
think a Basmoli heroquester can regain the power of Berserk.

And finally: elephants often go berserk when wounded. Did the now-dead
elephant people who once inhabited northern Ralios (I cannot recollect
their name and do not have my copy of Dorastor at hand) use to go
berserk in battle?

Paolo Guccione


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