magic and lunar indictment

From: Peter Metcalfe (
Date: Wed 28 May 1997 - 04:04:30 EEST

> My apologies. I don't see what effect this [roman analogy] has on
>the validity of my argument, though.

Absolutely nothing. You were however attempting this fallacious
analogy to 'prove' your argument.

>Glorantha has technology and so on as well as magic, so if
>the magic is on an equal footing, so to speak, we should expect to see the
>same sorts of things happening (militarily speaking, and on the grand scale)
>as in our world, where cultures are also on an equal
 magical footing (i.e.
>it doesn't work).
Counter examples:

OLD SESHNEGI vs BASMOLI: At the Dawn, the people of Seshnela were
overrun by the Basmoli. Despite the Seshnegi being equipped with
Iron Armour, Sorcery and Aeons of Experience, they are amply defeated
by the Hsunchen Basmoli who have none of these things. In order
to save Seshnela, Hrestol has to heroquest to make a new religion.

GOD LEARNERS vs YANOOR: The Dragon Emperor Yanoor has ruled the
Land of Splendour. He is the Wisest Man on Glorantha and maintains
the magic which has kept his land unchanged throughout the Great
Darkness. He is overthrown by an outsider who doesn't have the
faintest idea about what the Emperor could do.

vast, powerful and organized. They maintain a professional
army on horseback. They are overthrown by a hero who leads an
army of half-naked savages wielding pointed sticks.

GOD LEARNERS vs CLOSING: Zzabur unleashes a massive spell called
the Closing. Despite the combined intellectual power of the God
Learner Empire at its height, they are unable to counteract this
curse and so their Empire is shattered. Later the curse is
nullified by a two-bit sailor turned heroquestor.

EWF vs DARA HAPPA: The EWF leads a massive army which conquers
the land of Dara Happa. Within a generation, the EWF ruler of
Peloria is assasinated and a blind man's son has somehow been
swept to power and is throwing the EWF back to Dragon Pass.

>>>The point I was making was that the magic of all cultures is
>>>inherently equal. No matter who you are, one point of magic is
>>>one point of magic.
Me>> So the bolt-action rifle and an automatic rifle are equal because
>> they fire the same sort of bullet?

> No, because of the other technological advances involved.
But if one point of magic is equivalent to one bullet, you've
effectively conceded that there are other factors in the
superiority of a magic system than the spell intensity. Even
the roolz show that sorcery spells is generally superior to

the spirit magic spell.

>>> My original point was that because all magic is equally potent in
>>>principle, regardless of what culture the caster comes from, you can't use
>>>the 'power' of magic to determine who is 'right' about mythic history.
Me>>On the contrary, You can quite easily make such arguments. You may
>>not be able to make an argument to convince Sir Skeptic but many
>>cultures in the real world and in glorantha *do* make such arguments.
>Absolutely. I never said they didn't. I just said they were wrong.

Two things are being mixed up here. You are claiming that all magic
is equally potent which is disputed. Secondly saying that people
"can't" do something is not the same as saying that they are "wrong"
to do so.

> I see no reason to assume this. The Empire does well because it can
>adapt magic to regimental use. Even if it could apply this to other fields
>(and it clearly can in at least some, e.g. the cult of Kalikos), it still
>doesn't make their magic 'better' in the sense in which I mean it.

Magic that cannot be adapted to regimental use is 'inherently
equal' to magic that can be? I suspect you're using a highly
restrictive definition of 'better' by solely focussing on one
benchmark (ie 1 magic point) to judge the superiority of a

Martin Dick:

[Bear in mind that half my resposnses are tongue in check]

>Let's look at what the Lunar Empire has done. It has attacked Sartar
>several times prior the conquest of Sartar without as far as I can
>see any real provocation in political terms.

To be fair, the provocation stems from religious terms. By blatantly
worshipping the God that Murdered Yelm and Murharzarm, the Orlanthi
endanger the world thereby (at least from the Lunar PoV). If you
think this is a silly reason, then look at the Domino theory.

>It uses horrific magics such as the Skyburn and the Crimson Bat. To my
>mind, such acts are the equivalent of the USA using nuclear weapons
>against Baghdad in the Gulf War.

The Skyburn and Moonburn is the best way to get rid of Elf Forests
with a minimum of hassle. The aim is not to die for the Lunar
Empire but to make the elf die for his forest.

The Crimson Bat according to Lunar Doctrine actually is a tool of
Salvation. By destroying people's material existence, it releases
them from the troubled earth to the highest level of existance. So
why don't the Lunars jump in the maw? To paraphrase St. Augustine
'Take me to the Level Above Human but not yet'.

>It employs people like the Char-Un barbarians in its army who from what
>I have seen eclipse any Dragon Pass Orlanthi in savagery.

The Tarsh Exiles who practice cannibalism and scalp taking are not
Orlanthi? Just remember the Kingdom of Sartar was quite happy to
fight alongside the Exiles against the Lunar Empire. And how many
times have the Ducks been sent as emmissaries to the Upland Marshes?

>It assassinates rulers who are inconvenient for their plans of conquest
>eg. the Pharoah and the King of Tarsh.

And assasination is an inherently evil thing? Would you be condemning
Lord Death on a Horse's assasination? Furthermore assasination is
technically not a crime within the Lunar Empire.

>It forcibly removes and enslaves the red-headed children of Pent.

The children are not enslaved but brought up in the Red-Hair tribe
that guards Lunar Interests in Pent. The Lunars are no more cruel
in this than the Ottomans in creating the Jannisaries.

>It supports the Yelmic system of Dara Happa which oppresses the vast
>majority of the population in those areas and privileges the few.

Seriously this is not quite correct. The Yelmic tradition has been
sufficiently liberalized by the Lunar Way to such an extent that the
Conservative Dara Happans revolted. A system of privilege is still
in place but it is really no different from the Malkioni and Kralori
social systems in doing so (I am drawing no distinctions between
the Rokari and the Hrestoli).

>It employs and
>gives positions of high power to men like Gim-Gim who would definitely be
>executed in the Gloranthan equivalent of the Nuremberg trials.

On grounds of personal disgust like Julius Streicher rather than
complicity in horrendous war crimes methinks. But hatchet men
from the dirty tricks brigade have been given high rank just
about everywhere in Glorantha.

>One of the
>key cultures in the Empire (Alkoth and the Shargashi) are dedicated to
>the destruction of all things and maintain practices which are far more
>"barbaric" than those practiced by Sartarites in the 1500s and 1600s.

It's barbaric sure, but it's *consentual* barbarity in that they freely
choose to be barbaric. The Orlanthi are barbaric because they don't
have any choice in the matter. To allow this state of affairs to
continue is the ultimate in barbarousness in Lunar eyes.

>Let us then look at the country established by Sartar amongst these supposed
>natural savages and barbarians. He established the Kingdom with a minimum
>of bloodshed, he built cities and established libraries, he built magical
>roads, he provided a means of settling disputes beyond the blood feud.

You're focussing solely on Sartar which is like focussing on the
Good Things that Stalin did. KoS mentions that one Colymar King
killed a King of the Malani and another fought Tarkalor and
was defeated. In addition, the Elmali clans were rebelling against
their King over a religious dispute. All this under the enlightened
Kingdom of Sartar. Things got so bad during the later years that
the Kings had to rely on the Telmori to keep the peace.

Look at what happens when the Kingdom of Sartar is overthrown.
Apart from some tribes like the Madober refusing to assist the
Boldhome defenders (because of Lunar sympathies), the whole place
is plunged into turmoil once the Royal House is overthrown. It
seems to me that if it wasn't for the constant pressure of the
Lunar Empire giving rise to 'united we stand, divided we hang'
mentality, Sartar would have eventually collapsed in civil war.

>What [the Lunars] are I think is an Imperialistic
>society dedicated to the spread of their doctrine whatever the cost
>for both spiritual and economic reasons.

I don't think they're expanding whatever the cost. Since the Ban
has lifted, they've hardly made any effort to expand down the
Janube compared to their efforts in Dragon Pass. Hwarin's Conquest
of the South was for a time opposed by the Red Emperor and Tarsh was
for a time considered to be an independant state _until_ Palashee
Longaxe kicked out King Philigos. Since then the Lunars have been
trying to pacify the South. But after 1625 ST, it seems to me that
all they are trying to do is to maintain Tarsh as a Lunar state and
leave the affairs of Dragon Pass in the King's "in-box".

>As such they are in many ways the "bad guys" for the Orlanthi of
>Dragon Pass

Many of the things that you mention, the Orlanthi would not give
a toss about IMO. What the Orlanthi are concerned about first and
foremost is taxation. That alone is enough to make the Lunars
the 'bad guys' from the Orlanthi PoV.

- --Peter Metcalfe


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