Re: Shang-Hsa, Walktapi, etc.

From: Sandy Petersen (
Date: Wed 04 Jun 1997 - 19:47:30 EEST

RQ3 used the Oxford American Dictionary's spellings, in which "worshiping"
and "worshiper" is (slightly) preferred.
        RQ2 did not, so "worshipper" is used. Despite the OAD's statement,
"worshipper" is probably more common even here in America.

Thomas Gottschall
>I don't think if you cut a walktapus into pieces that every piece develops
>into a whole walktapus.
        Under normal conditions, I concur. Typically the pieces try to crawl back
together again. BUT, if they are kept apart for too long, they will
differentiate and form new, independent walktapi, though probably some of
the pieces just die.
        When two walktapi breed, they tear each other limb from limb, into exactly
thirteen pieces (eight tentacles, two arms, two legs, and the body stump).
The torso & head then die, and the twelve limbs each develop into a new
young walktapus. The combat interaction serves the same purpose as sex for
more conventional animals. The walktapi formed by this method probably grow
faster and are more viable than those formed simply by cutting off chunks
of a walktapus and keeping them in a bathtub (or whatever).
        Walktapus do NOT breed every time they meet, but only rarely. Normally,
walktapi are considered to be sexless, but sometimes they show male
genitalia. There is only one report I've ever heard of of a female
walktapus. No doubt such a creature would be exceptional in other ways as
        NOTE: probably no scholar in Glorantha knows the above information about
walktapus breeding. Certainly players would not be privy to it. It's a
worthwhile Lhankor Mhy expedition: "How do walktapi breed?"

>But I actually don't know what happens if a tentacle is eaten by somebody.
        Ecch. Eating a _living_ walktapus tentacle? Dangerous, at best. Even
trolls prefer to kill the critters first.

>I think Walktapi can regrow their limbs within a certain time.
        Yes, of course, but it's far easier just to reattach a severed limb.

>But there is something else, a walktapus can't be starved!
        Well, this is sort of true. I think that an unfed walktapus gradually
shrinks in size, resorbing its tentacles and limbs.

Stephen Martin
>Now I may be wrong, but I could have sworn that Saintly Yanoor was killed
>by the False Dragons Circle, and that Shang-hsa (MHNBC) was their
        As you suspected, you are, in fact, wrong. [Personal discussion with Greg
S., Greg F., Nils, & myself.]
        Shang-Hsa came first. When his consciousness was awakened, he became
Yanoor and swore off his former sins. Then Yanoor was easily defeated by
the False Dragon Ring. In fact, I suspect that if the current Emperor had
_not_ been (in effect) emasculated, that the FDR would have had a more
difficult time of it.

>I would suggest that the "fact" that "Aether" and "Yelm" were the first
>two Emperors is a God Learnerism, and that the names of these Celestial
>beings were different before the FDR came in and changed the records --
>why do you think Shang-hsa (MHNBC) burned all the books?
        They're not called "Aether" and "Yelm" in the Kralori tongue -- these
names are what the God Learners applied to them.
        Why did Shang-Hsa burn the books? Read on ...

        When Shang-Hsa took office, he proclaimed, "All mankind is unhappy and
wrought with cares. All mankind is beset with toil, poverty, sorrow, death.
These are the Four Pains of life.
        "The poor toil to please the rich. The wealthy toil to avoid having to toil.
        "The poor wish they had more, so they dwell in poverty. The wealthy can
always see a person who is richer, so they, too, dwell in poverty.
        "The poor are sorrowful, because they have naught. The wealthy are
sorrowful, because they fear losing what they have.
        "The poor grieve for the death of those they love. The wealthy are no
        "I know how to save all mankind from the Four Pains. Always we have
rejected and despised the temptations of the Flesh [the Beasts] and of
Ignorance [KoI, of course]. And all previous emperors were right to do so,
for the Flesh and Ignorance are bad, singly. But I have seen beyond the Two
Threats, and see how they can be merged into a harmonious whole. Consider
the Four Pains.
        "The beasts toil not, because they seek only pleasure. The ignorant do not
strive to please others, because they foresee not that harm comes of
idleness. Thus, they are happy.
        "The beasts see only what they have. The ignorant do not lust for more,
because they are unaware of its existence. Thus, they are happy.
        "The beasts use what is at hand, seeking no more. The ignorant need
nothing more, because they have all they can possibly use anyway. [The
implication is that a man from the KoI could not use, say, a plow, because
it requires skill and wisdom to do so. So he is happy with his little
gardening trowel, laboring away on a skimpy crop.] Thus, they are happy.
        "The beasts do not grieve for the death of loved ones, because they forget
them at once. The ignorant do not fear their own death, for they do not
know it will happen. Thus, they are happy."
        After this famous speech, Shang-Hsa began his program. First, he burned
the books. This enabled all mankind to move a vast step towards ignorance
and lack of knowledge. Then he slew the rulers of the people [presumably
whatever the First Age had as equivalents for Mandarins or Exarchs.], for
they led the common folk in the paths of wisdom. Then he destroyed all the
calendars, lest folk use them to look ahead.
        Yet was Shang-Hsa discontent. The land was unhappy. Famine and plague
ravaged it. The armies of Ignorance and the beasts invaded and were not
driven back. [This is widely recorded as having greatly upset Shang-Hsa. He
had believed that by emulating the Beasts and Ignorance, he would reach
harmonious balance with them, and they might even join his happy empire as
a first step towards blanketing the world.] He realized that the Two Sins
were insufficient for happiness, and that he would need to uncover a Third
Sin, like unto the beasts and ignorance. So he meditated, and commanded all
the world [i.e., Kralorela] to pray with him.
        At the Sunstop, his prayer was answered. He was enlightened, and Passed
On. [In my belief, he then became Yanoor.]

        The Basmoli who fought the Brithini & Malkioni in the First Age were an
advanced culture about which little is known (since they're destroyed, and
the only surviving records are from their foes). It is clear that they
worshiped other gods besides Basmol, and there is evidence that they didn't
worship Basmol at all, at least not openly. Certainly they were no longer
"mere" Hsunchen.

Peter Metcalfe
>Why should the Basmoli be wearing armour? The True Basmoli needs
>aught but his skin IMHO.
        They were no longer true Basmoli. It's possible that part of the Basmoli
Empire's army, even at a late date, was composed of True Basmoli, but I
doubt they were in a position of authority.

Joerg B.
>horses get sick on the plains of Jolar quickly.
        This is probably just a superstition, because we know that horses are used
to this day in the parts of Jolar nearest Fonrit. Anyway, it was not the
case in the Second Age. Perhaps one of Hon Hoolbiktu's Dooms was a
horse-afflicting disease, carried by some insect or worm indigenous to the

Peter M.
>then how _did_ the six-legged empire manage to conquer the plains in the
first >place? According to the Jolar writeup, their steeds failed which
implies that >they must have been effective initially.
        They were effective until the final war.

DUCKS *********************
Jane Williams
>What other locations for Ducks are known, apart from Duck Point?
        There are duck "centers" all over Wenelia. The large port in far west
Wenelia (whose name escapes me for the moment) is not exclusively Duck, but
certainly has thousands of Duck citizens.

>any idea what bit of the Holy Country?
        Coastal areas.

>Cults: I gather that ducks used to worship Yelm and this changed when they
>were "cursed", so they lost their wings, gained live births and longer
>lifespans, and started worshipping Orlanth instead.
        There's no actual evidence for Yelm worship and not much for their
so-called "curse". They are associated with the Sky because they are birds,
and in Orlanthi & God Learner cosmology, birds are the the Fire phylum.
Even waterbirds, presumably.
        WING LOSS -- The whole flightless thing is easily enough explained in
natural terms -- intelligent ducks are huge -- 20 kg or more. Not many
birds of that size can fly anyway -- especially waterbirds (think of the
Great Auk and Emperor Penguin, comparable in size to RQ Ducks).
        LIVE BIRTH -- I don't accept this for a moment. It is biologically
improbable (evidence exists that animals with calcified eggs -- such as
birds and crocodiles -- cannot evolve ovoviviparity). It is mythologically
unimportant (who cares whether they lay eggs or not). And in terms of game
play, it isn't as fun as having them lay eggs, since at least one common
non-human PC type ought to be an egg-layer.
        LONGER LIFESPANS -- water birds live a long time already, and the larger
the bird, the longer it lives. RQ Duck lifespans aren't particularly
prolonged for a bird of its size and background. Remember, birds are
generally longer-lived than mammals. I think RQ Ducks live about as long as
humans with no supernatural element needed. Ditto for their slow rate of
maturing -- the wandering albatross doesn't usually mate until it's 10
years old or more, and it is much smaller than a RQ Duck.

>All I ever hear is that they worship Ernalda. Why?
        People are assuming that because ducks are Orlanthi culturally, they must
worship Ernalda, too. I don't buy it either. Heler, maybe.

>They're not farmers, they're fishers. Worshipping the river spirit would
seem >to make more sense.
        At least, if they live on a river. Worshiping the Upland Marsh spirit is
probably not so great.

More later,



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