Divination, Mythology and so on

From: TTrotsky@aol.com
Date: Mon 19 May 1997 - 22:24:28 EEST

James Wadsley:

<< No. I don't think divination provides any answer you didn't already
 suspect. Only people capable of creating their own paths can come up
 with non-orthodox answers.>>

     I have a problem with this idea (assuming I have understood it
correctly, always a hazard). I agree that divination will tend to produce
cryptic answers, but it must at least be capable of producing answers you
didn't suspect. Otherwise, what would be the point of doing it? Even if we
throw away the roolz altogether, surely it still follows that in Glorantha
one puts some sort of energy (be it POW, fatigue or whatever) into casting a
spell? And if all that spell gives you is a meaningless augury onto which the
caster puts his own interpretation, exactly what is that energy doing?
     Anyone can throw bits of coal into a fire, eviscerate a chicken or throw
runestones on the floor and think they see some pattern in the result. There
has to be some tangible difference between just doing that and casting a
spell. Now, I agree there are instances where the divination won't work, such
as trying to answer theological debates. In these cases, you really would get
a random pattern, which a priest would no doubt interpret as supporting
whatever he previously thought. (This also answers a question Carl asked,
BTW) But, if I have followed what you are saying above correctly, you suggest
that this should always be the case. If so, what does the spell DO? Or have I
misrepresented your position?

Jim Chapin:
  <<When culture A meets Culture B, which has a different view of the
 world and its past/meaning, in most cases one view proves RIGHT, not in some
 abstract sense, but in the sense that, say, the Indian Ghost Dancers found
 out that their dances did not stop the white man's bullets.>>

     In the RW, yes. But the point is that in Glorantha this doesn't seem to
happen. Orlanthi, Praxian and Dara Happan magic all work equally well,
despite the underlying mythology being based on contradictory views. So you
can't tell who (if anyone) is right.

 <<I'm reminded of Isaac Asimov's Foundation, in which he points out that
 the "religion of science" WORKS. I'm quite prepared to believe that it
 doesn't work on Glorantha, but as a GM, or a player, I still want to know
 what does. >>

      What _seems_ to work is beleving in one's own mythology and holding to
one's own beliefs and customs (otherwise you get zapped by the Spirit of
Retribution, to give an extreme example). What the underlying reason is
doesn't matter - well, not to me.

 Carl Fink, replying to Alex:
<< >"if it doesn't work, what's the Real Reason why not?"
 That, too.
 If you get contradictory answers from "the same god" (say two Yelm
 priests ask), we have either the odd prospect of Yelm lying to his
 followers, or Yelm not existing. Neither appeals to me. If Yelm *is*

 a reliable source (at least from his own viewpoint) then all those
 "how can they argue about doctrine?" questions come right back.>>

    So, obviously he doesn't answer this sort of question. Perhaps Divination
only works on questions about the post-Dawn Inner World, say. This is an
admittedly arbitrary, but IMO workable, limitation on the spell. The gods'
powers aren't unlimited, why should we assume that they will answer any
possible question put to them?

     Martin Dick agrees with me (thanks), then asks about whether specific
events are known outside of their cultural area. My answers, FWIW:
The Sun Stop, Gbaji/Nysalor, Dragonkill War, The Closing:
    These are all historical events, and are as undeniable and universal as
the existence of the Red Moon. Although the Dragonkill War was geographically
confined to Dragon Pass. As you say, people may have different explanations
for them, but here I think we can all agree that the events did happen as

 The Dawn, IFWW, the Spike, Chaos
    AFAIK, all Gloranthan mythologies contain some allusion to these events,
although they may characterise them differently. Many of the myths about the
events may contradict each other, though. As for Chaos, different cultures
will define it in different ways, and may even argue about whether it is
always a Bad Thing, but it definately exists. Chaotic Features, for example,
are objectively real.
 <<The Block - Is some cosmic baddie under there or is just a really big and
 bad broo?>>

     I'm not sure if anyone other than the Praxians has any myths about the
Block or what is underneath it. But I doubt that the Malkioni, say, would
accept it was the Devil if asked. So, IMO, this one isn't an objective fact.
Stephen Martin, replying to something I posted ages ago but which appeared
only recently for some mysterious reason:

 << Since the ancients of the RW measured no parallax in the stars, our
 ancient world-modelled Glorantha should also have parallax-less stars.
 Yes, things have changed in Glorantha since the "good old days". But the
 fundamental physics of the world remain the same.>>
    Don't agree with you, mate. Frex, the moon observed by our ancestors
clearly isn't at all like the Red Moon, the tides don't work in the same way,
etc. The above is a perfectly playable and reasonable option, mind. It just
doesn't fit Glorantha as I understand it. YGMD...
 All hail the Reaching Moon




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