POW and Common Magic +++

From: Stephen Martin (ilium@juno.com)
Date: Sun 26 Oct 1997 - 21:21:55 EET

My, we had 4 days without a Digest -- where was everyone? I thought I had
been unsubscribed again!

David Cake
>>I'd call it Man POW, Trolls would start with Man POW and Darkness POW,
>>Elves with Man POW and Plant POW, etc.
> Which is exactly what I was arguing against - Trolls have Troll
>POW, which is just like Human POW. Of course, there are some differences
- -
>you can't sacrifice Human POW for Kygor Litor magics usually, for
>but generally trolls, like humans, have a soul that consists of one
>not two.

Except that now you are getting way beyond anyone's acceptable level of
complexity. For example, intelligent fish in the River of Cradles would,
by your reasoning, have to have Intelligent Fish POW (IFP). Maybe even by

species. Then, you have to know that Zola Fel will accept IFP at least as
much as he will accept Human POW (HP) and, for that matter, Newtling POW
(NP), Duck POW (DP), and Blue Elf POW (FWBEP) (only the one fresh water
species, I assume) and the occasional bit of Triolini POW (I assume it is
Ludoch, but could a passing Zabdamar give him some Zabdamar Power (ZP)?).

By this time, I think half the GMs would be trying to figure out the
acceptance ratio: is IFP worth twice as much to Zola Fel as HP, or only

I very firmly believe that the reason many of the runes are more or less
universal concepts in Glorantha (even if the rune symbols change) is that
there are certain universal concepts which most Gloranthans recognize.

Sure, a human and a troll are different. But this difference is, in a
magical sense, very limited. Both embody the Man Rune, trolls just toss
in a bit more Darkness than most other Man Rune creatures. I think the
runes are well-known (both in Glorantha and to Gloranthan gamers), are
valid (if imperfect) expressions of the power and mana flow in Glorantha,
and they are clear, distinct concepts. For HQ, eternal sub-division takes
down (and past) the RQ road, where some GMs have given separate skills to
Throw Duck! Sure, it was done for fun rather than accuracy, but it shows
up one of the flaws of RQ -- it is too detail oriented.

When Greg Stafford was playtesting his Glorantha: the Game rules in the
summer of 1992, people didn't know individual spells. They had Fighting
Magic, Healing Magic, Communicating Magic, etc.

I'm not necessarily advocating that we eliminate all spell names and just
go with classes of magic, just stating that the possibility is there.

And remember -- most of us on the Digest are Man Rune creatures, too. :)

Spirit Magic/Universal Magic/Etc.
> But the rules question reflects a deep difference in Gloranthan
>realities. I think the lesser magic that cults teach their initiates is
>same as the magic taught by shamans, and is taught by cult spirits. You
>think it is taught by priests (or I guess by commonium with the god, or
>something like that), and is quite different to spirit magic. Not just a
>question of Spellteaching or not, but a big distinction. I have no ideas
>how the hell we determine who is correct in any decisive way, other than
>appealing to divination.

At this point, I doubt a Divination to Greg would work. When and if a new
Gloranthan game is written, the Divination will have to be with that
writer. And, unless I miss my guess, it won't look anything like any of
us imagine, in a rules sense. And I don't think many people will be in a

position to influence it one way or the other.

> While I am more inclined to the view that divine cults evolved
>directly from spirit cults, and do indeed teach just the same magic. I
>admit I'm uncomfortable with the idea that low sorcery, which can be
>from books, is also the same thing.

I think this paragraph very clearly illustrates the two problems I have
with your viewpoint. First of all, it is not true that most Gloranthan
Divine cults evolved from Spirit Cults, and I think Greg would be the
first person to stress this. The gods were actually walking around in the
Lesser and Greater Darkness, and in the Grey Age. People began worshiping
the gods long before Spirit Cults first formed.

Second, I am NOT necessarily saying that all Low Magic/Human Magic is the
exact same magic, merely that it is very easy to use nearly identical
spell names, descriptions, and mechanics for them. I think there is very

little distortion of Gloranthan accuracy to have Malkioni peasants,
Orlanth worshipers, and hsunchen teens learning the same spells in
different manners. This system has the advantage of being simple,
eliminating the requirement of creating a new magic system for common
people every time we look at a new culture, and of possibly identifying
that all sentient creatures (and possibly non-sentient) have a common
magical heritage, regardless of whether they are theists, mystics,
humanists, naturalists, or other.

How else would humans have survived so long through the Gods War and
Chaos Wars, unless they were intrinsically magical? They don't have to

rely upon any single path to learn their magic -- like most magic, it
comes from within, and is merely shaped by the tradition that they use to
evoke it.

My opinion, anyways.

The Raaterovas
>So i can take it from you that there are faerie-like beings/spirits in
>Glorantha? I've always expected Glorantha to be filled with them, and
>always been baffled by the lack of nature spirits in official Glorantha.

Elder Secrets, Elder Races Book, page 116, 2nd complete paragraph:

" ... For the entire time birds fly about, singing songs of any season,
both migration and mating, playing with pixies and faeries who joyfully
flutter about."

Graeme Willoughby
>2) Since the Knight caste was invented by Hrestol, what did St Horal
do? (Horal is the 3rd son of Malkion and supposedly Patron of the Knight
>caste that was only invented after the Dawn).

As I understand it, Horal was the _Warrior_, as distinct from the Knight.
He still fought (as many common warriors still fight), but he was not a
knight, with all that that applies: high honor, chivalry, lances and
jousts, etc. There are people out there who might understand this better
than me, but I think that is the gist of it.

>4) anyone got a good definition of "human" for Glorantha? That is , if
>you have a gift "double damage against humans" or a geas " never kill a
>human" (say) what does this include /exclude? Agimori? Hsunchen?
>Hsunchen in were-form? Weartagi? Vadeli? Tusk Riders? Half-breeds like
>Pavis (the person) ? Ogres?Human-Broo? Any other near-humans I've
The "Are hsunchen humans?" debate has been fought long enough that we can
ignore it. Per most interpretations and stories, I would state that
agimori (even the Men and a Half) and ogres are human. Everyone else is a
different species, though many are closely related (especially waertagi).
Tusk Riders might be human too. Pavis is a god now, so it really doesn't
matter, I suppose -- do his cult runes include Man?

This also brings up another old debate, about what is "human"? If it
means descended from the Man Rune (whatever that means), then trolls are
human for certain, triolini _might_ be, and wind children could very well
be. Elves are more debateable, as are ducks, Gold Wheel Dancers, baboons,
vadeli, etc.

Though I would question any geas or gift that dealt with "humans" --
you'd need a pretty good mythic reason for it to convince me.

>5) Why doesn't Issaries have a doubled "Issaries" rune?

It is a minor rune. Only the Great Runes, the ones that are part of the
fabric of Glorantha, can be doubled.

Of course, I don't really believe this, and would state that he does have
it as doubled, just as Himile probably has a doubled Cold Rune.

Jacent Vick
>Are there any differences between the fourth edition of Dragon Pass
>and the Avalon Hill version?

As far as the rules go, no, although there were some erratta for Dragon
Pass which were included on a slip of paper in the Chaosium version,
which were incorporated into the AH version.

However, there are some non-rules additions and clarifications in the AH
version. In addition to a battalia listing (which has some errors and
ommissions), four numbered bits explain that: 1) the Barbarian Horde is
part of the Sartar forces; 2) the Sylphs are the Wind Children's physical
agent; 3) the asterisk in the Red Emperor's MgF should be ignored (it is
not the only counter with errors, though); and 4) the Star Twins only
appear in the game as a result of Random Event #42.

It occurs to me that these additions would be a good thing to add to the
boardgame material on the Gloranthan Web Page at Chaosium, and I will
begin work on it as soon as the current files are completed. Anyone with
the AH version want to volunteer to scan it all in for me?

>FWIW I would love to see a new edition from Issaries Inc. But I bet it
>wouldn't be very likely to happen in todays market. But all of us would
>it, right?

Actually, before everything wound down, Rob Heinsoo had a first draft of
a completely rewritten game system for the Dragon Pass boardgame, for the
Italians. It used area movement, and had completely different procedures
for magic and the like, but it had potential. When and if Issaries, Inc.
gets in gear, this boardgame will likely be a possible Gloranthan license
to whoever has the time and money to finish it. _I_ wanted it to be
called Flame of Sartar, but the current working title is Hero Wars:
Battles in Glorantha, or something like that.

The problem is that very few of us would buy such a boardgame. Even if a
lot of people wanted to play it, not everyone would need a copy of their
own. And not everyone would want to play it. Plus, the amount of new
Gloranthan source material in such a game would probably be minimal.

As for boardgame material, at some point the Web Page will have a
separate page for the boardgames. Currently, only the article "In Defense
of Super-Heroes" is up. I am almost done with the Erratta for Nomad Gods
(from The Book of Drastic Resolutions, Volume Prax), so that will be up
soon. Does anyone have any suggestions of what _already published_
material should go up as well? There is a strategy article by Brett
Murrell which would be great, if I can locate him. And there may be
interesting material in old issues of Wyrms Footnotes, though that is all
for WB&RM, so is of limited usefulness. There are also some pieces of
WB&RM which did not make it into Dragon Pass, probably for space reasons,
which explain what some of the Sartar and Lunar units are. Again, anyone
with any edition of WB&RM willing to type/scan some stuff in for the Web

Anyone interested in contributing to the Web Page should email me at:


Well, I think that is more than enough for now.

Stephen Martin
- -----------------------------------------------
The Book of Drastic Resolutions


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