the great debate

From: Loren Miller (loren@wharton.upenn.edu)
Date: Tue 20 May 1997 - 18:29:06 EEST


Joseph Troxell <jmt107@psu.edu> sez:
> I think that myths from differing POVs are, and should, differ and perhaps
> even conflict. Orlanth slew Yelm with Death. Now, if you're an Orlanthi,
> Orlanth did a great thing and freed the world from a despot. If you're a
> Solar, Orlanth was an upstart rebel who didn't know his head from a hole in
> the ground, and screwed up the whole world because he couldn't accept that
> Yelm was better than he.

Actually, if you're a solar then Orlanth didn't kill Yelm. Rebellus
Terminus tried to slay Yelm but one of Yelm's sprats whose name I cannot
remember jumped in the way and got offed instead, and upon perceiving this
Yelm proceeded to fall apart quite literally. Thump, there went his head.
Splort, there go his arms. Yelm is gone, and Antirius takes the place of
the sun but is less than perfectly satisfactory. etc etc etc.

So what you have is not only a disagreement about the meaning of the
events, but also a disagreement about the events themselves.

> What I don't like is stuff like, "Are Elmal and Yelmalio the same diety?"
> Either they are, or they're not.

When you're talking about deities what does "the same" mean? For instance,
both Orlanth and Umath are king storm deities, and do pretty much the same
thing in the myths. Umath tears the sky from the earth. Orlanth sends the
sky away from the world. Does "the same" mean that they have the same Rune?
Are the various goddesses of the Red Moon "the same"? Is the Orlanth of
Sartar "the same" as the Heortling one, the Ralios one, the Praxian Storm
Bull's Little Brother? Is the Praxian Humakt "the same" as the Esrolian
one, the Sartar one, the Carmanian one, the Kingdom of War's Humakt? Even
in real world mythology, Zeus castrated his father Uranus, who had
castrated his own father Chronos, much as Ham castrated his father Noah in
apocryphal Jewish myth. Does this mean they're all the same? Surely the God
Learners thought so. But you know that the God Learners' theories don't
work anymore.

Anyway... I don't think these or any other gods are completely uniform over
the surface of the lozenge. I think "the same" is the wrong thing to
measure. For a wide variation in the stories that can be told, MGF tends
to encourage the proliferation of wildly different myths. For a game
setting in which characters can wander far and wide and still have access
to their unique magics, MGF encourages us to allow people to renew their
divine magic at temples and shrines to gods who are sufficiently similar to
their own. That's all I need to know, how to tell what will maximize my
game fun. And for me, MGF comes from lots of contradictory myths and
tenuously related temples that can still share magic.

Your MGF may vary.

- --
+++++++++++++++++++++++23
Loren Miller <loren@wharton.upenn.edu>
A priest, a rabbi, a Penn student, and an elephant walk into
a bar. The bartender says, "what is this, some kind of joke?"

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