Why do we dislike Mostali?

From: Owen Jones (oj@maths.anu.edu.au)
Date: Fri 23 Jan 1998 - 06:26:34 EET

I have a query for the list, prompted by the recent discussion of the
elder races, regards dwarves.

My understanding of the dwarvish raison d'etre is that they labour
unceasingly to repair the "world machine". Many people, when writing to
the digest regards dwarves, have conjured visions of vast underground
factories full of noisy machinery, and individuals whose role in life is
to fit sprocket A to spindle B (which they get to do for eternity, if they
do it right). To me this doesn't quite fit. Part of the problem is that I
can't imagine the world machine as mechanical.

Certainly the dwarves have the highest level of technology in glorantha.
We know they have gunpowder and possibly steam engines. A steam hammer to

help make the tins in which to ladle their horrible food doesn't seem too
much. But more than this would make them too potent. In any case, dwarves
are craftsmen rather than factory-line workers: I recall a description of
dwarven musket units where every musket is different, hand made by its

We know dwarves produce nilmergs and jolanti, but the process is sorcerous
rather than technological. A jolanti climbs cooling from a vat of magma
only after the appropriate spell has been cast. His sensory organs are
carved by stonemasons, but require sorcery to get them working. If you
were to cut one open, you would surely find stone organs rather than
little cogs. My point here is that dwarves put as much effort into
working with spirit as they do with stone, iron, bronze, fire, dark etc.

Back to my query, which is essentially, what do the dwarves see as wrong
with the world machine, and what exactly are they doing to fix it? I've

had a number of ideas, but they're still only part formed.

Possible problems:

1) An imbalance of elements, e.g. too much air/moon/dark floating about.
If so, what are they doing to correct the balance? Is the torch in fact an
dwarven construct aimed at counteracting all the dark in in shadows dance?
If so, how do they keep it powered? Are there dwarves slowly hollowing
out the red moon, aiming at the eventual destruction of this largest of
clogs in the windmill, and where is all the rubble going?

2) The tilt in the sky dome/lozenge. Are there dwarves carting
rock from Genertela to Pamaltela to correct the imbalance? Were the
Western isles sunk to try and correct an imbalance, and are those being
raised in the East part of the same soltion?

3) Valind's glacier. Are there dwarves busy trying to build a volcano
under Valind's nose, to stop his glacier spreading further south than it

4) Chaos. Chaos broke the world, so fixing the world may require it's
destruction. However, we don't see dwarves above ground much, so what is
chaos up to underground that the dwarves are fully occupied dealing with
it. Could it be that the world has been in danger of being devoured by
Krarsht throughout the ages, and only the dwarves constant struggle
against them has kept us all from being devoured.

5) Really big problems, like putting the sun back in the sky 24 hours a
day where he really belongs, or restoring the spike. I just can't imagine
what dwarves could possibly be doing that might remedy these situations.

In any case, we know dwarves devote their lives to fixing something. Of
course, they have to devote a bit of time to staying alive, or the job
would never get done. I would love to hear what thoughts people have on
exactly what it is the dwarves are doing, and what they think this will
achieve. As part of this, what do we think dwarven cities look like? Vast
underground caverns and tunnels are fine, but I for one can only imagine a
late renaissance level of technology, and don't want them populated by
"Paranoia" style characters.


Owen Jones

Centre for Maths and its Applications, School of Math. Sciences
Australian National University, ACT 0200
Ph +61 2 6249 2897 (office) 6249 4552 (direct) Fax +61 2 6249 4675
Web page http://wwwmaths.anu.edu.au/~oj/


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