Re: Elder Races, Genocide/Killing Gods

From: Nick Brooke (
Date: Fri 23 Jan 1998 - 11:07:21 EET

Panu writes:

> Elder races do know stuff human cultures don't, cause they've been
> around lot longer. They have magics and secrets more primal etc.

And therefore...? IMO that would make them sinister and uncanny forces,
not admirable role-models, if you were to ask the average man on the
Boldhome omnibus. Sure, if you want to know what Hell was like before
the birth of Styx, Uz Know. If you want to experience the primaeval
forest of the Green Age, before animals came forth, this can be done
by becoming One In Aldrya. If you desire a vision of the Watchmaker's
universe of the Mostali, you know where you can find one. But why on
earth would any sane human desire any of these things? Please remember
that Gloranthan humans have their own myths, too: and things they
"don't know" are generally not perceived as valuable or desirable.

Thus: the Dara Happan culture is "older" than the Orlanthi, and has
lots more lore, magic and experience when it comes to dwelling in
cities, preserving monarchic empires, worshipping celestial bodies
than the Orlanthi are ever likely to obtain on their own. But do we
see many Orlanthi embracing Dara Happan ways, accepting their rule,
in order to access this primal experience? No, we don't. Some do --
weird, "un-Orlanthi" types like the civil-strife Elmali -- but the
majority are happy with their own way, and think that changing them-
selves in order to adopt the "elder lore" of an alien culture would
be inconceivable. And the Dara Happans and Orlanthi are both human
cultures: you're talking about embracing the lore of another species
altogether, which has *far* less to do with human concerns.

> IMO, uz would cheerfully take any and all forested and rich lands
> given half a chance.

Uz would *love* to take forested and rich lands from their occupants.
The former are usually inhabited by elves, the latter by humans. On
their own ground, the inhabitants can usually fend off troll attacks:
elves have natural advantages in a forest, and humans from rich lands
are generally more numerous and better organised than the trolls.

Of course, there are times and places where the trolls have succeeded:
the Troll Woods are dominated by uz, the Kingdom of Night ruled the
rich lands of Esrolia for most of history, and the Stygian Alliance
ruled Safelster in the early Second Age. But they're the exception,
not the rule.

> Mostali factories could very well be above the ground in some places.

Mostali factories certainly could be found above ground. And they
could be *found* much more easily if they were above ground. Think
about it: the natural advantages dwarfs enjoy underground are lost
when they emerge, plus they lose the incalculable benefit of secrecy.

Take another look at "Troll Ecology" (Book of Uz, p.18f.), and try to
follow the ecological arguments for the current distribution of the
Elder Races. Or get hold of DW#24 somehow and read Sandy's article on
Mostali Earthsense, to see why dwarfs prefer the underground life.

Now, of course, if you want to *change* the factors given in these
sources (e.g. to give faster-breeding trolls, far-sighted dwarfs,
vegetation-independent elves), you're free to do so in your Glorantha.
But it'd be silly to expect it to share much common ground with other
gamers' worlds in these areas after doing so.

Sergio writes, to Stephen:

> Your arguments and those presented by Peter Metcalfe in GDv5#349 make
> a lot of sense. This is nothing like saying different races can't go
> along because 'they can't and they hate each other, point'.

Which was said by...?
You aren't related to Virgil Greene, are you?

Mikko writes, re: humans adopting Elder Race cultures:

> There is a certain logic here, that many of you seem to be forgetting.
> On earth almost all the cultures of old had the consept of the golden
> age. How in times gone by humans were closer to the gods, the light
> was brighter, men were stronger and nobler, and so on...

Happens in Glorantha, too: cf. the GoG Monomyth. That doesn't mean that
humans will naturally see the troll, dwarf or elf "Golden Age" as in
any way preferable to their own, though, does it? See above.

Mike Mittmann rises to my bait:

>> You mean like committing genocide and killing gods, the way those
>> classic GDQ modules end up? Sorry, Glorantha's not written to be
>> that kind of world.

> I guess I'll have to re-read King Of Sartar. Or is your point that
> Glorantha is written so only NPCs get to commit genocide and kill gods?=

Not quite. It's that in Glorantha, events of vast importance tend to
occur because historic, mythic and cultural trends build up until a
catastrophic resolution is the only way for the cosmos to survive; not

because a group of player characters have more hit points and better
magic weapons than a deity, and choose to kill it simply because they
can. If killing off an established Gloranthan deity were a major theme

of your campaign, then go for it! But saying "My group of players went
to the Castle of Lead, killed Kyger Litor and wiped out all the trolls"
suggests a certain -- casualness? -- about what ought to be a major,
world-shattering event.

I guess, to put it in your terms, Glorantha is written so *GMs* get to
decide when and under what circumstances genocide should be committed
and/or gods killed: not players. And to be "orthodox", you should have
a damn good campaign reason for it, and not expect your Glorantha to
match up with anyone else's after the catastrophe is over. If I run a
game where Yelmalio regains his fire powers, I'm making a significant
change in the world: it's rather optimistic to hope that other games,
supplements, scenarios, myths, etc. will support *my* Glorantha after
that has happened, without a fair amount of work on my part.

Nils writes:

> Perhaps Den Xi is the epitome of the good Kralorelan wife: beautiful,
> servile, chaste, industrious; while Gong Xi is the bad wife: ugly,
> quarrelsome, promiscuous and lazy.

I like this: it makes sense, and is definitely preferable to the "mother-=

in-law" suggestion. (Odd that Peter Metcalfe believes women find it easy
to hate their mothers, BTW... :-)



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