Re: Elder Wisdom

From: Nick Brooke (
Date: Thu 22 Jan 1998 - 01:16:43 EET

Panu writes:

> (I'm being ganged upon again!)

Wonder why!

> Why the humans would not have accepted the elder race culture? This
> makes definite distinction to most fantasy worlds, AFAIK. The elder
> races, after all, are elder and thus wiser.

Why don't we still live like the Sumerians did, or fly like the Wright
Brothers? They came first, after all, and are elder and thus wiser.
Age is not necessarily an advantage (I turn thirty this October, and
am becoming acutely aware of this). It can mean you're outdated, old-
fashioned, over the hill... indeed, the Gloranthan experience in the
Second Age (when the Elder Races marginalised themselves) does rather
suggest that their glory days are long gone. The Lunars pride them-

selves on their progressive novelty; the Orlanthi are well aware that
Dara Happan civilisation is "older" than their own, but don't seem to
be falling over themselves to adopt it.

Besides, even granted that they're "elder", it still doesn't make
much sense for humans to "accept the culture" of a bunch of trees,
rocks, and/or scary monsters. Does it?

> With all that interaction and similar cults, some people should just
> see the darkness/plant/stone.

They do. See my list in V5#343. But this isn't the usual case.

> Putting trolls to dark places is like imagining monsters under
> your bed in the night. And like thinking that the abandoned house
> is haunted. So usual, and, somewhat boring.

So we should have been *radically* different, then? Dwarfs in the
forests, elves in the mountains, trolls in the desert... unusual,
and therefore more interesting?

> I feel, that for example the Kitori are very uniquely Gloranthan.
> Moreso than Harry the Orlanthi tribesman.

Yep, agreed. You can't describe any significant part of Kitori life
without going into a fair amount of detail about some unique Gloran-
than features; you can get a fair amount of mileage out of "generic"
Orlanthi using real-world examples.

But does that make them more interesting, playable or enjoyable?

> Gloranthan humans are not supposed to be RW humans, even if their
> cultures are inspired by RW examples, right?

Gloranthan humans are human. They think like us, live like us, look
like us and do the same kinds of things we do. That's why they're
called "human". We don't arbitrarily change them for the sake of
doing so -- if we do, the benefits of exploring our human mythic
and social identity through roleplaying are lost. As soon as you
have to fall back on dehumanising arguments (which is what this is,
in essence) -- "Gloranthans are all religious fanatics"; "Gloran-
thans don't think the way we do"; "Gloranthans must age differently
to the way normal people do" -- then you're damaging our potential
for identifying with and understanding the game world. Unless there
is a *significant* gain to be made, I'd prefer not to do this: the
price outweighs the benefit.

Mark S. wrote:

> A less ambiguous example of retcon would be the character conversion
> rules in RQ3.

So when the rules changed fourteen years ago, some of your character
sheet details had to be changed too? Big deal!

> Times will come up when, say, an important NPC blurts out a fact
> that they couldn't possibly know, or the players catch the gamemaster
> in some other contradiction.

Always a risk. What can you do about it, other than rely on the good
nature of your players? Still don't see what this has to do with new
source material coming out, though...

> To sum up, newly published material might necessitate a retcon (or
> might need to be ignored) but if one is retconning anyway, this isn't
> the worst thing in the world.

IMO, "the worst thing in the world" would be *either* for no new
material to come out (thus requiring no retcons), *or* for whatever
new material came out to have no impact on my gaming (thus requiring
no retcons, but suggesting an unpleasant stagnancy in the market...).

> In my Loskalm, though, a romantic minority have sprung up since the
> ban, they think of elves as being not unlike creatures out of, say,
> Tolkien. This sort of thing can happen when one's knowledge is based
> only on stories and poems, sagas and ballads. Disillusionment can be
> fun to roleplay.

I quite agree. I came up with my "seasonal elf personalities" when I
ran a college game with some Tolkien fans. They'd previously met the
"wise, noble, generous, elder" Aldryami of Earth Season (autumnal),
and were startled to meet the same folk in Sea Season (spring), when
they're all frivolously playing pranks and dancing in pollen clouds...

[For those who forget: Fire Season (summer) gives grimly dedicated
elves, marching to warlike or peaceful tasks; Dark and Storm Seasons
see them as "last survivors of a harried race", all Celtic-Twilighty
beneath the leafless eaves of the wintry forest for so long as they
stay awake. Then immature elves (PCs and others) can 'fixate' on one
of the seasonal 'moods', being based on one or another of the "Stock
Fantasy" archetypes for elves, without distorting the world itself:

        Spring "Faerie" (e.g. Jack Vance, Neil Gaiman, etc.)
        Summer "High Elves" (e.g. The Silmarillion)
        Autumn "Deep Elves" (e.g. Lord of the Rings)
        Winter "Last of the Elves" (e.g. CJ Cherryh)

Doesn't apply to Yellow or Green elves, mind, to say nothing of the
Red, Blue or Black weirdnesses...

Makes assimilating newbies to Glorantha easier; also gives the GM a
good laugh when they see their "friendly" elf contacts changing on
them through the course of the year.]



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