Ducks, Trolls & Dialects

From: James Frusetta (
Date: Sun 02 Feb 1997 - 06:49:06 EET

Erik Sieurin writes about Ducks, Humakt & Undead:
It does seem like the ducks must have some special kind of Humakti (or
other) power to fight undead. There's the bit in KoS where the human
settlers need to put themselves under the protection (!) of ducks. I'd
always thought in terms of some sort of warding or preventative magic that
keeps the undead in their marsh -- when the ducks are driven away, the
rites aren't maintained, and the undead commeth.
This has Bad Implications for the Lunars who kick the ducks out...

> My problem with "Glorantha is Bronze Age" is twofold:
> A, (the serious one) There are many cultures in Glorantha, most of
> which vaguely (but not aboslutely, this is fantasy) correspond to RW
> ancient cultures. Not all of those corresponding cultures are "Bronze
> Age" in any other way than "iron" being very rare or nonexistent.
> Many of them are Stone Age.
Hmm, (trying to use the historical periods correctly this time, and not
screw up again) -- what with stirrups, the nomads seem to be Medieval.
Westernizers are as well; Lunars are vaguely Roman; and all the hoplite
business is more Classical age than strictly bronze. Hmm. Yeah, it doesn't
seem on retrospect that it is a Bronze age world, particularly, except for
using bronze all the time (which looks to be about as good as RW iron --
RW bronze swords don't take edges as well as they apparently do in

Daniel McCluskey, the other Troll on the digest, writes:
> that they could maintain an uneasy truce. Part of this Marriage (STRICT
> heresy ANYWHERE but the Kitori Woods) was Orlanth's aquisition of the
> Sandals of Darkness.
There are some people here from the Castle of Lead who'd like to talk to
you about this... :)

> I hold (through the revelation of the great LM seer Imade Itup) that
> there is an ancient Uz tradition that in order for a wedding to be
> valid, the bridegroom has to successfully steal something from the
> Bride-to-be. This helps reduce domestic violence and abuse by ensuring
> that the poor weak hubby is tough and sneaky enough to withstand his
> wife.
Hee hee hee! I do quite like this. More, more!

> And Xentha is the "nice" darkness goddess! she actually likes humans
> (ther than to eat<g>
Well, she may not have been trying to kill him, now that I think about it.
As he ran away in terror, she sent a shade after him. He resisted just
fine, but his horse croaked -- and fell on him, since he failed to jump
off in time. Ouch.
As I recall, the GM explained that they'd been having rites for a new
priest, and that the ol' "avoid light for a full season" bit was shot when
he threw open the door. So it was Xentha in a touchy mood...

> Huzzah! a convert! (now if only I can convince Greg and Sandy...)
Why not? Even if a troll can read a human book (which I think they can),
it's gotta be tough. Slaving over such odius tasks is the duty of TAs and
trollkin. Troll scholars just combine the two. Why bother to strain your
darksense if them big-eyed trollkin can just read it to you? You've
probably still got to learn how to do it, though, since the dumb enlo
can't read the big words, and the ones who are smart enough to are uppity.

On trollish violence: hmmm, I can come up with a few ideas after a couple
years of martial arts. :) There was a big fellow who I used to do
ground-grappling with. I'm small and scrawny, so I'd worm out of his
clutches -- he eventually learned to just stuff my head in his armpit,
where the combination of smell, sweat and simple suffication would
eventually make me tap out. This strikes me as properly trollish. :)
Slapping deflections seems very trollish, particularly with their
strength. Biting might be dangerous, because if you bite then you may
expose your neck to the other troll -- so they may just gape and snarl at
each other, sort of in a ritualized fashion, intimidating the other. Bears
do it, it's sort of amusing. Kicking is probably bad -- since trolls are
_strong_, they can probably block (catch and hold) better than humans --
which means they're gonna have more opportunities to break. IMO, breaking
a leg is easier than breaking an arm, but that might just be the style I
learned. Yah, I'd keep those kicks really low -- maybe simply booting (for
trollkin) and wing kicks (for other trolls -- sort of a stomp/jab at
around shin level, although some can do it higher).

> combat also helps reduce permanant injuries, while allowing trolls to be
> extremely physical and violent in their social interactions, as I feel
> they Ought to be. It also favors the larger and stronger females over
Hmmm. I don't deny that Uz is violent, what I do think is that non-"play"
violence is rare. Since your average troll should have a pretty good idea
exactly who in the clan/tribe can Kick His Butt, he'll avoid angering
them, while swaggering over his inferiors. I like the idea of just
chuffing and slapping around for this -- I suspect that real violence is
frightening to see, and rare (outside the ZZ temple, where it appears to
be a ritual). In GodLearnerSpeak: since trolls have tough hides, I'd think
that "play" violence is intended to just slightly bruise past that hide.

Good opportunity for MGF here -- trolls new to an area, of course, are
unknown quantities, and other trolls are less likely to back down from
them. Thus, why all veterans of Gimpys hit the deck when new troll
adventurers hit town. I've had to roleplay some of this -- I used to play
a _really_ scrawny dark troll (SIZ 14, which is pretty damn pathetic for a
troll -- STR 15, I think, which isn't good either) that worshipped Storm
Bull. Ever ZZer I'd meet, I'd have to squabble with. ("Ho ho! Who dis
trollkin who worship human god?") Sheesh. If you want to go to personal
e-mail, the stories I could tell you...

> miscarriage (really THE most important concern of the uz). Punching, or
I suspect hitting a pregnant female is strictly forbidden, period.
I argue that any pregnant female dark troll, particularly those with a
dark troll in the oven (ain't sonar great?) has a big, burly XU initiate
to help her out, keep her from harm, etc.

Broo Nick on detail: yeah, this was always a problem when I've GMed. I
actually tried to require personal backgrounds as well, which never really
took off. I ended up cutting back, and just running the standard
"introductory" adventures, like Grubfarm, Griffin Mountain, etc., that
really seemed to draw them in. One thing that helped was to tell 'em
"stories" about what they were doing. So I'd spend the first 20 minutes
or so reading myths, or stories, or whatever -- tell 'em the griffin
origin story, or about the First Beetle, etc. Stuff like Raven's
Stepladder is top notch for this!

A little out-of-character roleplay helpe in the first few weeks, too,
event though it's "bad gaming." Sad and despicable as it may be, I also
found Eurmali to be a big help -- weird, cartoonish stuff to introduce
Glorantha. As a case in point -- the players wouldn't do player
backgrounds, but I _did_ con them into making song parodies, which was
more fun for them, to discuss their backgrounds. So, say, the duck used
"Beverly Hillbillies," ("Let me tell you all a story/of a duck that
fled/Poor little quacker, Lunars killed his family dead/then one day
'cause he didn't like the Bat/bought himself a sword and he worshipped
Arkat", etc.) The players really liked this, and I was happy because they
were actually researching character backgrounds.

Stephen Martin has suggested I try using Toon: Glorantha for such wacky
stuff, which I just might, for fun. Yelm: "Where'd that wascally wind god
go?" Orlanth: "Nyuk nyuk nyuk!" <poke>

Jane Williams asks about Sartar dialect:
Dang, Balkan history is actually useful for a change. In the Balkans, up
until the 20th century, there was a _lot_ of difference between what
village A and village B spoke, mostly because travel was difficult, and
your average villager rarely traveled. Sure, all dialects were close, but
you didn't have "standarized" languages until relatively recently. (This
happened earlier in the West, frex, and required not just travel but also
printing and general education. The US has lost most of its regionalisms
- -- I believe this is not true of the UK, though? Any comments from the

John Bull gallery?)

Even today, if I go to western Macedonia they speak quite differently in
the villages than they do in eastern Macedonia -- and the citydwellers
speak differently, too. And the Republic of Macedonia isn't very large --
sort of Sartar scale, actually. The native speakers seem to understand

each other, but there'll be local stuff that doesn't come across (e.g.: a
couple of villagers taught me how to say "if I spit on you, you will
rust," the greatest of all insults in Sv. Nikola. This did not work,
however, in Skopje, where they thought _this_ was hilarious). I could
usually make myself understood, and there were enough words in common with
other South Slavic languages (Bulgarian, particularly, and Serbian) that
I could usually communicate _very_ basic things there. (Stuff like, "where
train," or numbers.)

So the Sartar dialects would probably be mutually comprehensible for at
least the basic words -- say, that first 30% of a language. Mom, dad,
trade, throw, I am, lunar bastard -- those sort of basic building blocks.
The vocabulary and the grammar for the basic stuff seems quite resistant
to change, and should be common enough that you can communicate in a
regular fashion. It's when you get into the more specialized stuff about
local crops, or geography, etc. that I think you need tradetalk.
Stormspeechisms would probably be commonly used for weather, considering
how widespread Orlanthio is in the region.

And note that the Sartarites may be borrowing words from the lunars --
IMO, if the Lunars "invented" using mass magicians on the battlefield, the
terminology Argrath uses when he does this is going to be Lunar. Lots of
RW examples, natch. Perhaps you see good Orlanthi beating up those
traitors who adopt Lunarisms? The Fourth Age language probably has quite a

bit of Lunar influence.


End of Glorantha Digest V4 #152

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