Harsaltar, magic, half-trolls

From: Stephen Martin (ilium@juno.com)
Date: Fri 10 Oct 1997 - 08:22:25 EEST


To All:

My email server had problems, and bounced a Digest back, at which point
Shannon's fiendish digest-sender promptly unsubscribed me -- no fault of
Shannon's, and he has graciously resubscribed me. So, I am back, wading
through the 9 Digests I missed.

According to Greg at one point, the Red Emperor was not killed at
Boldhome, despite the claims made in King of Sartar. I think he said that
that was propaganda. My opinion is that it was one of the Proxies (as
mentioned in The Fortunate Succession) who died there. As the Emperor had
planned, of course.

Phil Davis once thought that the defeat of Harsaltar was martial arts
related. The boy had a geas not to strike a foe from behind. As Harsaltar
was striking his killing blow, the Emperor did some kind of martial arts
doding/turning thing, and thus the boy struck him in the back, thus
killing both of them.

Magic
Maurice Beyke's ideas mirror a lot of ones I have had over the years. I
have a rough write-up of a Join ritual, which allows multiple mages to
combine their spell casting for combined effects. Still needs a lot of
work.

I also think that shamanism is a class of magic in its own right,
deserving of even more treatment than it was given in the RQ4 draft.

I also favor changes to Spirit Magic, though not in the way Maurice does.
I also see Spirit Magic as common to all human and probably humanoid
societies. However, I think the "mechanics" for it are different in

different places -- in the West, it would be the oft-discussed Low
Sorcery, while the more familiar sorcery rules (heavily modified) would
serve for High Sorcery. Unlike High Sorcery, however, a single skill (Low
Sorcery) would suffice to cast any Low Sorcery spell known. BTW, this
idea would also explain the societal role of the "acolythists" mentioned
in the Player's Book of the Genertela boxed set -- an acolythist assists
a sorcerer, but learns no useful magic. In other words, they would learn
petty spells and cantrips (i.e., Low Sorcery), but would not be taught
higher magics (i.e., High Sorcery).

Shamans would teach the RQ3-style Spirit Magic. Divine cults would
provide Blessings, which work much the way they did in RQ2 -- chance of
success (like Divine Magic) is near automatic. This higher success chance
would explain why most cults can only offer a few spells. I am sure the
method of learning and casting the spells would differ among the
Kralorelans, elves, and trolls, and possibly among the Doraddi as well
(though maybe not there).

I rename this category of magic as Personal Magic, since it is derived
from the personal energies and mind of the user. This differs from
sorcery, which is said to rely upon specific laws (possibly relying
somewhat on Pendragon-like reliance upon specific effects based on the
day and week of the casting), which I imagine help to amplify the casting
of the spells to the RQ levels.

A further note on shamans and shamanism. I do not think that all shamans
have fetches. There are real-world shamanic traditions where the concept
of fetch is not as relevant as the concept of a Spirit Ally or Spirit
Guide, who is extrenal to the shaman. And in at least one excellent

fantasy novel from days long gone, there was a practitioner whose magic
centered on a spirit place rather than an actual spirit. I think what
defines a shaman more than some sort of spirit contact (though all have
that) is the concept of Commune, the ability to get into tune with the
shamans's charges, whether those charges are a family (Ancestor Worship),
a grove of trees (Aldrya shaman), a clan or herd (Waha shamans), the
local weather patterns (some kolatings?), etc.

Thus, some shamanic traditions would have fetches in the RQ3 fashion.
Others would find a Spirit Ally, who would teach and support them. Others
would find a magical spot on the spirit plane to which they went to work
their magic in safety. But all would use their powers to sense the health
and wholeness of their charges, and to ensure that they stayed that way.
Thus, they would guard against disease and nightmare spirit, sense
intruders and enemies, teach Personal Magic/Spirit Magic spells, create
fetishes (charms), etc.

My two cents worth, anyways.

At this point, any Gloranthan game is at least a year in the future,
probably more. The game may or may not be in the process of being worked
on right now, I don't know, but it is not being written by a committee,
I'm sure. And I think it is unlikely that input will be sought from
Gloranthaphiles in its mechanics. But this is just my opinion, until and
unless Issaries, Inc. is created, much of this is just a moot point. I
see little point in discussing specific mechanics for a future Gloranthan
game. Discussing them for current use is up to the user, though.

Half-Trolls
One famous half-troll is known in Dragon Pass history: Karastrand
Half-Troll, who had a minor part in the wars fought between Kajak-ab
Brain-eater and that other troll during the Inhuman Occupation.

Stephen Martin
ilium@juno.com
- -----------------------------------------------
The Book of Drastic Resolutions
drastic@juno.com

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