Guilds and cults; Magic Roads; Viking (un)death

From: Mr. Tines (
Date: Sat 01 Nov 1997 - 23:58:48 EET

Please bear with me if this is a duplicate - my ISP is
playing silly wossnames at the moment, I'm afraid...

Joerg Baumgartner wrote:
> (The fact that [guilds] are mentioned in the character creation for
> doesn't say much about Gloranthan reality, but then urban craftspeople
> always tended to cluster their knowledge, and form cartels to keep out
> unwanted competition.)

About the time Cults of Prax came out, there was discussion
in _Alarums and Excursions_ about how to fit guilds into the
same environment; and one person proposed a "standard Guild
template" to match the cult template. The main stubling block
was seen to be that of magic : in the theist part of Genertela
which was all that was know about at the time, the monopoly of
the cults upon magic and ceremony gave them a significant
boost over purely mundane guild structures. This would be
as true for simple craft guilds as for anything that an
"adventurer" might get involved in - a purely mundane smith
would be at a disadvantage against a Gustbran or Third Eye
Blue initiate; a butcher would benefit from honouring Waha
in his aspect as the Butcher in ways that a craft confraternity
could not match (in terms of appeasement of animal spirits,
for example).

Even with the significantly evolved contemporary view of
Glorantha, there may well be some force to this argument for
some crafts in some locations : while the Sartar economy
probably doesn't have a niche for a specialist butcher, the
smith is likely to be a member of some scary specialist cult
(just as RW smiths were seen to be magical people). It
is probably a personal call as to whether it is credible for
shamanistic sources to ply craft-related magic, or whether
some form of low sorcery might be kept as a "trade secret".

Setting magic aside, the issue still remains about the
economic state of the area under consideration. Craft
guilds and confraternities are a product of specialisation,
which in turn depended strongly on urbanisation. My gut
feel is that they would be unlikely to be significant
in Sartar, but would be more likely in the West, and,
perhaps, Kralorela.

> On the other hand, the earth cultists may
> know magical roads between their cities crossing practically no
> wilderness

Magic road heroquests have been mentioned in sources
from way back - ISTR one mentioned in some of the
house campaign write-ups in WF, lo these many years ago.

The interesting thing about them from a game PoV is that
these actually provide a fairly closed, limited, benefit
to the quester (and companions), and don't get too
embroiled in the "gaining a super-power" or "hacking the
mythology" stuff : perhaps for that reason, they have
been a rather neglected facet of the subject. The main

reasons I can see for not introducing more of them are

1) the slippery slope to quests with more long-term effects
2) a disinclination to making rapid transport available

Lee R. Insley wrote

> In some Viking cultures, when at the moment a person died, a window
> opened in order to let the spirit of the body leave the building.
> It was generally believed that if the
> body was removed through a window or doorway, the dead could find its
> back home through that entrance

The sagas also tended to include a significant number
of restless dead : anything vaguely magical about the
deceased or their manner of decease would provide an
excuse for them to rise. If you pattern your take on
Sartar after the Vikings, there would be serious precautions
taken to ensure a quiet rest for significant figures,
and probably a number of war chieftains who don't
sleep easily in their barrows, and occasionally stir
to trouble either the clan(s) they feuded with, or
those unwitting foreigners.
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