Lunar superiority

From: Peter Metcalfe (
Date: Sun 25 May 1997 - 17:04:08 EEST

Andrew Joelson:

> Lunar magic isn't Dara Happan magic.

It is based heavily on Dara Happan traditions and the modern
Dara Happan magic is very hard to distinguish from the Lunar

>DH stuff is only part
>of what the Lunars do. They use DH stuff, and Carmanian sorcery,
>and Chaos powers, and Thelayan magic. In short they use everything
>they can get their hands on and make work.

Chaos Powers are known and used by the Dara Happans before the
coming of the Lunars. They summoned various demons to send against
their enemies in the past. The City of Carantes sent a Hydra
against the Lunars. The Alkothians caused numerous problems for
the Carmanians with their Secundus Horribilus.

I think that Carmanian sorcery occupies only a niche within the
Lunar College of Magic as it's only good for personal stuff.
Adepts can be found within the ranks of the College but they
occupy a support role IMO rather than being the bedrock of the
Lunar College of Magic.

Jean Durupt:

>I forgot the name of the bad guy, the opposite of Idovanus


Pam Carlson:

[Dara Happan magic:]

>I think that, individually, DH magic may not be as strong as some other
>culture's. (Greg said that, until recently, they didn't have much in
>the way of personal rune magic.) The DH's always cast their spells in
>big groups. They get 1000 people together and throw one huge spell to
>curse their enemies or bless themselves. On this scale, I think their
>magic may be more powerful than most.

The picture I have of the Dara Happan is a little more complicated
than this. Rather than simply muster 1000 people and cast a joint
spell, the Dara Happan society was organised so that the magic
potential of the masses was concentrated in select officials, nobles
and/or leaders.

Instead of the average Orlanthi going to the Godi and learning
bladesharp, the Dara Happans structure it so that their leaders
have access to the spells. Thus for military purposes, the
majority of the poplace have no war magic, the soldiers are well
endowned and the centurions are positively filled to the brim
with the stuff. If one quits the army, he loses all the war
magics. If one has been skipping military masses or his uniform
is not up to scratch (so as to conform with the image of the ideal
soldier), then the quality of the war magic tends to decay. This
state of affairs requires a large number of Priests to perform the
sacrifices and prayers.

Of course, what really matters in surviving battles is not the
amount of magic but experience. Thus the Dara Happans had
well-equipped armies that could be defeated (or slaughtered)
by a clever enemy general. The Dara Happans would respond by
calling up more men and throwing the refurnished army at the
enemy until a) he makes a mistake, b) the Dara Happan general
gets it right or c) the enemy has been worn down through
attrition. Since they had a large population, they can put
up a fair fight.

>The Lunars built on this tradition, and added the Theyalan creative
>element on top of it.

I wouldn't say it came from the Theyalans. The tradition of the
personal magic in the Lunars would have come from the ruling Bull
Shahs who were just as 'barbaric' as the Theyalans. But as Pam
says, the Lunars took the magicians and imposed the Dara Happan
co-ordination plan to make them better and more effectice in


>The Lunar Empire has been very succesful, no doubt about that. But
>as I see it, it isn't the strength of their magic _per se_ that makes
>them powerful.

> To make an (admittedly imperfect) analogy, look at the Roman Empire.
>Their magic wasn't any better than anyone elses, and they conquered a vast
>area of land, and several other cultures.

An imperfect analogy indeed. The proper comparison here IMO would
be the organisation and military technology of the Romans. Since in
glorantha, these things are heavily dependant on the religion, (it
would be a very brave Orlanthi King who tried to impose Lunar military
discipline on his tribal warband), it follows that the culture's magical
organisation determines its effectiveness.

To put it in roolz terms, 1 point of Lunar magic is equivalent to
1 point of Orlanthi magic. But the Lunars can make that one point
go places that the Orlanthi spell can't. Ergo, the Lunar magic is

>And the same sort of things that
>helped the Romans also help the Lunars; the better military units, the
>large agricultural and population base, the ability to meld other
>religions and cultures into their own, all that sort of thing.

So why were the Romans able to defeat the Carthaginians and the
Hellenistic Empires who had all these advantages? To make the
argument in Gloranthan terms: Why aren't the Orlanthi able to
field phalanxes and heavy cavalry? Why haven't the Malkioni done
all that well in taking the best out of other religions and cultures
and mode it into their own? Why do the Hsunchen not have large
agricultural and population bases?

>It has special units working alongside the
>armies who provide relevant support, something that no other culture has
>AFAIK (and I admit I could be wrong...).

Which is a sterling example of superior magic IMO. Why don't the
Orlanthi or the Malkioni do these things? Because they currently
*can't*. The ability to use the magic in different ways from the
others is a sign that the Lunar magic is superior to others.

>As for Sheng Seleris, I don't know a lot about this incident other than
>the bare bones, but I was under the impression that he conquered the Empire
>and 'ruled' it for a time before they kicked him out. I just don't see magic
>as being the be-all and end-all, both the Lunars and Sheng were pretty
>powerful, one of them just eventually beat the other. It's like saying the
>Allies had better technology than the Axis in WWII because otherwise they
>wouldn't have won.

As I said before, Sheng Seleris was at the height of his powers
when he invaded the Western Reaches (or quell a revolt according
to some). After he was defeated, the Lunars began to clear the
Pentans out of Peloria which was something they couldn't do before
(they could chuck them out of the cities with much effort but that
was about it - the Pentans could prowl the plains at will and retake
the city at a later date).

Thus it seems to me that the Lunars were able to find some weakness
in the Pentan Magical System that allowed them to devastate the
Pentans in battle.

>Are there any pro-Orlanthi out there who think that Lunar magic is
>better than the Sartarite sort, and if so, what (if anything) do they think
>it implies?

They usually explain the Lunars superiority by blaming it on their
use of Chaos.

Oliver Bernuetz:

Me>>To say that the Dara Happan magic works no better than anybody
>>elses is like saying that the Technology of the 19th Century
>>Europeans is no better than anybody elses IMO.

>Which is like saying that 19th century Europeans managed to take over so
>much of the world solely on the basis of their technological superiority
>which strikes me as false IMO.

"solely" is your interpolation, not mine. But it certainly wasn't
the huge population (he says looking at the Portuguese and Dutch
empires) or united social structure (Europe? United?) that allowed
them to dominate the world.

- --Peter Metcalfe


End of Glorantha Digest V4 #427

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