Illumination and RuneQuest Sight

From: Joerg Baumgartner (
Date: Sat 07 Feb 1998 - 16:57:00 EET

Nick Brooke, he wraps up (and around, hence some reformatting of quotes):

>How's about: "The God Learners plundered *some* of the *inner* secrets
>of the Arkat Cult"? They got some important stuff; they didn't get

I agree. They may even have stolen the secrets about Illumination.
However, I feel that they found their secrets useless - much like
Draconic Speech and Thinking.

Consider: the God Learners _started_ the EWF by freely distributing the
teachings of Drolgrd. Later, they did not understand it, nor were they
able to negate its magics.

The God Learners had a very powerful magical philosophy, called RuneQuest
Sight, which allowed them to perform feats unknown to others. However,
RQ-Sight is based on a limited understanding of truths, in order to
generalize them and use more easily achieved parallel developments to
achieve the same effect (short-term).

For an example, think of the easy replacements of raccoon guardians as
described in the Glorantha Book of Genertela Box.

IMO the increased insight which Illumination claims to confer would
hamper the belief that Lodril is Turos is Solf is Baba Ulodra, and
while it would hide these doubts to the cult concerned, the arrogant
confidence which seems to be the hallmark of God Learners and Storm Bulls
alike would have been gone. (I mentioned Storm Bulls because Oddi the Keen

is the only published example of an involuntarily illuminated person, and
see what it made of his state of mind...)

>Discussion follows:

>It is, to me, inconceivable and absurd to suggest that the God Learners
>did not know that Illumination existed. The history of Malkionism and
>the West, before and throughout the period of the Chaos Wars, was tied
>up in the spread of the Cult of Nysalor, which offered Illumination.

Was Illumination the only thing the cult of Nysalor offered?

And was it to spread Illumination which the Bright Empire's missionaries
sought in Seshnela, or was it to gain more people donate magical power
to the leaders in Dorastor (which appears to be what Lokamayadon did with
the Orlanthi - is there any reason to assume that he was the only Dorastan
leader to do so?)

>The existence of Illumination would have been widespread knowledge
>in the West afterwards; and the God Learners were, if nothing else,
>extremely well informed, not least about their own history and
>philosophical background.

True. However, the God Learner philosophy developed in the colonies of
Jrustela rather than the Genertelan mainland, colonies which seem to have
been settled from the 2nd century on.

I don't know if there exists any description about the settlement of
Jrustela anywhere (though I recall that something about this was discussed
in '93 and '94 while much of the current views on Malkionism were prepared,
both for How the West Was One and other projects like my Aeolian heresy),
but here's my opinion:

The Malkioni of Seshnela had conquered and acculturated most of the
native Seshnegi kingdoms by the end of the first century. They seem to
have produced a sizeable surplus of population which allowed them to push
their borders eastward to Tanisor, and around Tarinwood to Slontos, which
they seem to have interacted with heavily by the time of the kingdom of
Herolal (around 250 ST). The Seshnegi seem to have had good relations to
the Waertagi, good enough to allow them translocation of huge numbers of
settlers or warriors across the seas. There may have been some exchange
with Akem (Broken Council guidebook claims that it was colonized from
Seshnela, p.14), there were extensive Slontos contacts, and there were
the settlements of Jrustela. They even staged a naval assault on Brithos,
apparently without Waertagi opposition (Genertela Box: Glorantha Book p.18),
though this destroyed the Seshnegi empire (and seems to have cut the control
over, perhaps even contact with, the overseas colonies of Seshnela).

All this happened at least 50 years before Osentalka was born. As a
result, the Jrusteli God Learners had no direct experience with
Illumination. Their ancestors had settled Jrustela in a time when
vestiges of theist earth worship as practiced by both the Pendali
natives and the Serpent kings in the first century as well as overzealous
True Hrestoli groups went to the colonies to find a haven for their

I don't know how they managed to unify these very divergent creeds into
the God Learner movement. I suppose the Sunstop may have affected this
development. However, I am fairly sure that the Jrusteli did not really
notice the Gbaji wars. They seem to have been caught up in developments
of their own instead...

(But then, how much impact did the Napoleonic wars have on the development
of the USA?)

>What I find dubious is that the God Learners knew that actual
>Illumination was one of the secrets of the Arkat Cult -- that,
>contrary to all their public statements, the Arkati were Illuminates.
>The reason is simple: we (in 1620's Glorantha) know that it's still
>something of a "secret" that the Arkati -- and Arkat himself -- are
>Illuminated. (Cf. Cults of Terror p.89, "Arkat the Destroyer"; Dorastor
>p.127, "The Underside").

Did the last remnants of the Dark Empire know these facts? The Jrusteli
conquest of Ralios has a lot in common with the Angevin conquest of the
Ghibelline kingdom of Sicily. Much of the cosmopolitan knowledge which the
Stauffer kings of Sicily maintained at their courts was banished by the
servants of the popes allied to the anti-Stauffer cause. Some of it may have
found its way into the library vaults of the Vatican (at least the best
preserved copy of Friedrich II's book on falconry has), but a lot was burnt
(along with the people who knew it) before it had a chance to reach people
who knew what they had lost. The fall of the Inka empire is another case of
an empire's knowledge falling apart against religious fanatics combining
arms with ruthless raiders.

>Now, surely, given the party line coming from Arkat and (presumably)
>his Dark Empire -- that Nysalor's followers "were unable to tell the
>difference between good and evil, and ... were *inevitably* corrupted
>by their powers and beliefs" -- one can easily imagine the maniacal
>crowing that would arise when the (anti-Illuminate) God Learners
>"uncovered the truth".

I wonder whether the initiates to the highest Arkati secrets were aware
of the fundamental identity of their insights to the evil deceptions of
Gbaji. As the case of Valare Addi proves, even Illuminates can fail to
see or accept "the plain truth"...

>The Arkat cult's "teachings about the evil, corrupt nature of Nysalor
>and Illumination remain fundamental to almost all Third Age Genertelan
>cultures" (references are from "Dorastor", p.127). The "knowledge" that
>Arkat (and the Arkati) were and are Illuminates is a matter for
>speculation among philosophers (Numidos the Skeptic and various others),
>and not "common knowledge" at all.

And unless there are people who are illuminated both in the way of Arkat
and the way of Nysalor (through heretic Dara Happan, Sheng's or Lunar
philosophy) it cannot be said whether the two are really the same.

(Or whether a divine spell used by a Stygian, a theist, or a shaman is
the same...)

>Given that the God Learners were remarkably efficacious at spreading
>the "facts" they wanted to be known, one would assume that the Arkati
>today would be widely reviled as hypocritical secret Illuminates, had
>the God Learners learnt *that* particular incriminating secret.

Unless, of course, learning the secret of the Arkati Illumination included
the urge to keep it secret from any who want to plunder it.

I'm a bit puzzled about how the God Learners came to learn about the
secrets of creative heroquesting ("heroquesting outside of a specific
cult myth", as Greg puts it in the Elder Secrets appendix on Heroquesting).

It is quite possible that Jrusteli merchants (who had their wares
transported by Waertagi vessels) met Arkat when he studied chivalry and
wizardry in King Gerlant Flamesword's kingdom, or again during his
campaigns in Slontos. Their role during this conflict may have been
similar to that of the Genuese or Venetian merchants during the crusades
- - suppliers of material for the campaigns, occasionally of mercenaries as
well, but not really participants.

>If one wanted to posit that the God Learners were Illuminates
>themselves, of course, things take a rather different turn.

I definitely deny that all God Learners in possession of the secret were
Illuminates. RuneQuest-Sight and Illumination don't appear to be compatible.

>If Arkat was Illuminated, that is... :-)

I guess he earned his Illumination when he had killed Nysalor and Gbaji.
If it _was_ Arkat who emerged... Arkat the Deceiver, anyone?


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