Re: Ecology & Prax

From: Sandy Petersen (
Date: Thu 29 May 1997 - 21:23:01 EEST

Andrew Joelson
>I seem to recall Hon Hoolbiktu being listed as one of the few
'non-violent' >Hero's of Glorantha. This from one of the long 'what is a
Hero' debates. >Sartar and Hon-Eel were also listed as non-violent, if i
recall correctly.
        Hon Hoolbiktu was relatively non-violent, it is true, but there was
fighting and killing in the destruction of the Six Legged Empire.

>Can someone give us a short history of Hon Hoolbiktu? Sandy?
        Here follows a tale of Hon Hoobiktu.

Long long ago when the Six Legged Empire spread roads and gardens like
cancers over the land, Hon Hoolbiktu <here the storyteller stops and waits
for the traditional applause and hooting that accompanies the listeners'
recognition of Hon's name>. Well, anyway Hon Hoolbiktu worked as a slave in
the gardens of the Empire. One day he killed the overseer and ran away. But
the Empire's magic men were very mighty indeed, and could see the future,
all the way up to now, and even further. No I won't tell you what they saw,
because it was unlawful. The magic men saw that Hon Hoolbiktu would destroy
their empire one day and kill all of them. They didn't care for their
empire, but they didn't want to die, so they made the Second Seeking
Ntajagar. [The Seeking Ntajagar is a sacred hunting beast. Only five can be
summoned in the entire lifetime of the universe. The First was in the
Godtime, one of Pamalt's helpers. At this point in the tale, the
storyteller pauses for the audience to disclaim distaste and contempt for
the godless Six Leggers who were so selfish as to summon the Seeking
Ntajagar and bring the universe's close nearer by one-fifth.]
        Hon Hoolbiktu was good at hiding. He was taught by the Wartsnoot itself [a
Pamaltelan beast proverbial at concealment]. The way Hon hid himself was he
placed himself in an egg, the egg inside a redfruit, the redfruit in a
redfruit tree, the redfruit tree in a seed, the seed inside a silverbird,
the silverbird in a rookery, the rookery in a cave, the cave in a volcano,
the volcano on an island, the island inside a sea monster, the sea monster
under the sea, the sea boiled off into a cloud, the cloud hid into a wind,
the wind hid in a whirlwind, the whirlwind sent to the desert, the desert
surrounded by a wall, the wall's gate hidden in a myriad myriad myriad
bricks [myriad myriad myriad = a billion. Hon has utilized seventeen layers
of hiding, the traditional maximum. Eighteen layers of hiding is only
attained once, in a Trickster tale in which Trickster discovers he can
never find his way back into the universe.]
        But no one could hide from the Second Seeking Ntajagar. It plucked out the
single correct brick in the wall to open the gate, plucked the whirlwind
out of the desert, inhaled the wind from the whirlwind, exhaled the wind
into a cloud, froze the cloud into a sea, swam under the sea to the sea
monster, was swallowed and shat by the sea monster with the island, braved
the volcano and entered the cave, plucked the silverbird from its rookery,
squeezed out the seed, planted the seed, grew it into the tree, picked the
correct redfruit, peeled it open, and cracked the eggshell. Thus the Second
Seeking Ntajagar found Hon Hoolbiktu before the sun set and brought him
back to the Six Legger magic men, who showed him their legs and navels and
told Hon Hoolbiktu he must not destroy the Empire. [The "legs and navels"
bit is found in certain stories of the Six Leggers, but no longer makes
sense to modern Doraddi. It has been in the tales as long as anyone
remembers, and so remains, perhaps a mystery fragment of secret lore. Or
perhaps an error made by some tale-teller ten generations ago.]
        Well, this was the first Hon Hoolbiktu had heard he was supposed to
destroy the Empire. "How can I do such a great deed?" he wondered. The
magic men threatened him.
        "Do not take the Spear of Fire.
        "Do not rouse the people's ire.
        "Do not seek yourself spirit allies.
        "Do not try to find out our lies."
        Hon Hoolbiktu said, "I will do all these things, and more." Then the magic
men did a great magic. They showed him their Dooms -- the Dooms of
civilized men.
        First they brought Plague. She was dark, many-armed, with a huge mouth,
but no eyes, nose, ears, or tongue [because there is no way to communicate
with her]. Hon Hoolbiktu soon was covered with boils, but he said, "This is
no danger to us. We do not live in diseased termite mounds like you. When
there is sickness, we walk across the free plains away from it and are
safe. We eat clean plants and animals, caught or tended by our own hands.
One of us may be made sick, but we do not all get sick together, and so
plague does not frighten us."
        Second they brought Starvation. She was skinny as a stick, with hot
blazing breath and huge swollen stomach [the breath symbolizes Sikkanos,
the bad wind, and drought]. Hon Hoolbiktu's stomach cleaved to his backbone
and his muscles became weak, but he said, "This is no danger to us. We do
not depend on other people for our food like you. When there is no food, we
can travel to a place where there is food. We can gather together and share
[this is a dig at the class differences inherent in civilized society]. We
can get hungry, and sometimes a whole family can starve, but we do not all
starve, and so starvation does not frighten us."
        Then the magic men knew they must bring their most terrifying Dooms, so
they brought War. She was tall and strong with teeth like arrowheads and
blood smeared all up and down her and dead men's penises hung round her
waist. Hon Hoolbiktu's knees smote together and he shook with fear, but he
said, "This is no danger to us. We do not fight for years. We do not have
land to protect or have taken away. We float across the plains like locusts
in the grass. We can fight each other, and kill each other, and slay whole
oases full of people, but we do not all fight in giant gangs, and so war
does not frighten us."
        Then the magic men brought their last and worst Doom, Death [Death is, as
is traditional, not described, for she is different for every man]. Hon
Hoolbiktu stood up boldly and said, "This is no danger to us. We die, you
die, all men and women and children die. Even gods and spirits die. But you
are afraid to die because you have never lived, and so we can turn this
weapon against you and so even Death does not frighten us."
        And then the magic men put their Dooms away, and they saw that they had
revealed their secrets to Hon Hoolbiktu, and then they used their most
powerful magic on him. "Hon Hoolbiktu, serve us and we will lift the four
Dooms from off your spirit."
        But Hon Hoolbiktu said, "I will never serve you." and he left. Then he
took the spear, and the people's anger, and his spirit allies, and his
knowledge of the Six Legged Empire's lies, and brought sickness, famine,
war, and death to all the human termite mounds and roads and gardens of the
        But to the end of his life Hon Hoolbiktu suffered from boils, and he was
always hungry, and he was a coward. But he was not afraid of death, not ever.

>The Praxian tribes are not modern nation-states. They are ecologically,
not >politically, interactive.

Frank Rafaelsen
>I fail to see the distinction. As long as there are limited resources to
>compete about the struggle is going to political.
        The distinction is that the resources used by the different tribes are not
the same. Sables, Impalas, Herd Men, High Llamas, and Bison don't eat
exactly the same plants, don't need the same type or quantity of water,
aren't afflicted by the same diseases, and are superior or inferior to
different opponents. Just as bison and antelope co-existed on the Great
Plains, Bison and Sable tribes can co-exist in the Wastes. This
co-existence doesn't mean the Praxians are tolerant or noble.
        Looky here: In the dry season, Impalas live in the dryest, hottest
country. In the wet season, the Impalas wander everywhere. The Bison, on
the other hand, seek fertile country in the dry season, and move to the
outlying desert land during the wet season. The High Llamas stick to the
hills, oases, and gulleys. The Morocanth prefer the marshlands and
riverbottoms. They still raid each other incessantly, and eat each other's

Frank Rafaelson
>But everything being equal a smaller tribe would be more prone to
>extinction in the long run.
        Yep. And some small tribes have gone extinct. Perhaps more of them will be
rendered extinct some day. On the other hand, at least two new tribes have
formed since the Dawn -- the rate of formation of new tribes may not be
that different from the extinction of old ones.

>The point is, I belive that the riders do compete. A easy way to increase
>you wealth is to live off animals captured by raiding and thus preserving
>your herd.
        This is not competition. This is predation. Predation won't drive a small
tribe to extinction in and of itself, because when a tribe gets small and
rare, the predators begin having trouble finding them, and they start
raiding the Impalas or some other big tribe instead. In addition, different
techniques are needed for maximum success at raiding each different tribe
- -- if no one has even _seen_ a Bolo Lizard for two years, no one's going to
be expert at raiding them. This lack of familiarity also bolsters small
tribes' survival.
        And never forget that they aren't being raided more than the other tribes.

>this is not a normal prey - predator relationship. It would be of no
concern >for the sable tribe if the bolo-lizards are exterminated.
        Look, Frank, it's of no concern to the coyote if the pronghorn is
exterminated. Coyotes don't think ahead of the consequences should they
devour all of this prey animal. Neither do the Praxians. Instead, they raid
whatever tribes are nearby. Naturally, the more numerous tribes are more
common, and get raided more often. Rare tribes are less-often raided.

        A given Sable clan is just as pressured by raids & loses just as many
braves and beasts to the enemy as does an Ostrich or Rhino clan. If the
Sable clan doesn't go extinct, why should the Ostriches?

        The broos in Dorastor really do bake a biscuit called Neverstarve, based
on walktapus meat. The biscuit is carefully scaled to the candidate's size
and metabolism. Once it is swallowed, the eater need never eat again -- the
biscuit constantly regenerates within his or her stomach as it is being

digested. Water is still necessary, though.
        The biscuit is known to exist in the Lunar Empire, and was even imported a
few times by merchants who traded with Ralzakark. As with most bad things
from Dorastor, the biscuits were blamed on Ralzakark, who didn't invent the
stuff -- but some of his broos use it, just as do many other gangs of broos
in Dorastor.
        Neverstarve has been banned from import, and knowledge of its existence
suppressed to some extent. The main problem is that when an eater of
Neverstarve dies, about 48 hours later a huge tentacled walktapus bursts
out of his body and goes on a rampage.

Stephen Martin
>the whole myth of the Kralori Empire was in fact created _by_ the God
Learners >of the False Dragon's Ring.
        The False Dragon's Ring were unequivocally NOT God Learners, except for
the very first few years of their assault on the Kralori.

Stephen Martin
>We don't know _who_ or _what_ Hon Hoolbiktu raised against the Six-Legged
>Empire, or exactly what their level of technological expertise was. Given
>the time period, I would also suspect some kind of God Learner connection
>to this whole conflict as well.
        The God Learners weren't involved, except as allies of the Six Leggers. We
absolutely know much about Hon Hoolbiktu's forces -- we know that they
became the modern Doraddi, that they did not use horses in warfare, and
that they consider themselves today to have been technologically less
sophisticated than the Six Leggers.

Stephen seems to be missing much of Peter's point, which was that magical
"tricks" can, and often do, cause great upheavals in Glorantha. Nitpicking
as to whether the Closing was "bypassed" or "nullified" doesn't change this
fact. The birth of Nysalor fundamentally changed the face of Glorantha. The
God Learner heroquesting abilities enabled them to overthrow ancient realms
that were both sophisticated and ruthless. While I'm the first to claim
that non-magic effects and drives in Glorantha are often overlooked, it's
still true that the interaction of man and magic drives the system.

Hasni Mubarak
>Does every god and goddess have a unique set of Runes?

>If they did, would that have a serious effect on Glorantha Theology?

>If not, how do gods with matching runes get along?
        Depends on the gods in question.

>Does the number of Runes associated with a particular god/goddess relate
>to that beings power?
        Kind of. It's a very complicated relationship, though -- kind of like how
much the amount of DNA you have determines how complicated an organism you
are. Humans have more DNA than fruit flies or viruses, but less than frogs.

Carl Fink: Sorry Carl, I don't categorize you as a God Learner. I place you
solidly in the False Dragon Ring category.

Sandy P.


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