Pavis LM: Document "Uncategorised Nochet Misc. 3655A"

From: Ian Thomson (ithomson@swin.edu.au)
Date: Mon 11 May 1998 - 16:18:49 EEST


(The following document was written at the Nochet Lankhor Mhy temple.
It was written by an itinerant sorceror who never gave his name,
however was divined as non-Chaotic and had bags full of cash. He
stayed at the temple around 1618-1619 before heading off towards Prax.
Although his behavior whilst in attendance had been pleasant enough,
if rather aloof, on leaving he made a pronouncement. He declared that
almost without exception the Priests and Scholars were a bunch of
narrow minded, back-stabbing, self-important buffoons. He furthermore
reminded them that having the biggest collection of papers would not
make up for their lack of genitalia, but only meant a ridiculous lack
of cohesion and loss of valuable documentation, and that he was happy
to see the back of them. After the embarrassing silence wore off, the
subjects of the attack joined forces long enough to to make a decree
concerning the admittance of wizards, and concerning standards of
acceptable behavior. Unfortunately such a unique example of
co-operation amongst the Library users was lost without trace within
four months. The unknown wizard's use of unusual idioms suggests his
origin being the Holy Country.)
- ----------------------------------------------------------------

"The Relations between the existence of Gods and the influence of
their Followers."

A short essay in nine parts.

1) The Gods came into being much as the myths describe. Most of this
happened before time began, although some notable exceptions such as
Pavis, were later on the scene. Pavis is an example of a mortal
becoming a God through HeroQuesting, which is possible but extremely
rare. The road to Godhood, as they say, is paved with the rended
spirits of the overeager. Pavis is more correctly classified as a
demi-God than a full God, although this distinction matters little to
mortals.

2) The Gods have a very very limited amount of free-will, however this
is free-will in association to their interaction with mortals. Who
knows how much free-will they have in their dealings with each other
that do not affect the physical plane. Can Stormbull go and knock on
Yelmalio's door and run away, for instance, or leave dog excrement
concealed inside lighted parchment (metaphorically speaking)? How Gods
live is not the same as how mortals live, and it is a very real
possibility that mortals actually lack the perceptual capabilities to
ever comprehend the full nature of Gods. Perhaps it is utter deluded
arrogance even to attempt to catalogue and fully define such a thing.
The Justreli God-Learners paid the ultimate price for this arrogance,
although of course all those God Learners who were dead of natural
causes by the time the retribution hit them, would have been exempted,
and since they started it all, how fair is that?

3) A learned colleague once used a wonderful metaphor to describe the
Gods' Compromise, (meaning effectively the restriction of the
free-will of the Gods when dealing with the physical plane.) He
described it as if all the non-chaotic gods surrounded the world
holding tight to the edges of a net. They were not free to act as they
wished because then they let go of the net and Chaos crept in through
the gap and entered the physical world. So the Gods have restrained
themselves, in order to maintain the existence of Glorantha's world as
a separate entity from the surrounding ocean of Chaos. The fact that
Chaos is a very real presence in the world, as we know, may allude to
the fact that Gods routinely do not hold 100% to the compromise, or it
may not.

4) To an extent, Gods exercise free will by choosing to answer calls
for Divine Intervention from their most devout followers. Some argue
that this is not free will but dictated by the worshipper, however
since some calls are answered whilst others are not, this seems to
indicate a certain amount of free action. Perhaps it is a strain for
the God to answer the call without breaking the compromise, and that
is why the calls from some worthies go unanswered, whilst the calls of
less notable worshippers are heeded. This may partly explain the
presence of Chaos in the world, if every time a call is answered, the
relevant God "lets go of the net" for a moment. This may also serve as
an example of the unfathomability of the nature of Gods. How do we
know exactly what goes on `out there'? Perhaps a God is free to answer
a call for intervention only when he/she has a moment aside from the
struggle against Chaos, or from more unfathomable godly activities. So
calls are not answered when a God is engaged in battle or some other
energy-consuming activity. One cannot say 'time-consuming' in relation
to Gods. How do they operate without the concept of time, are they
continually busy, or do they have an endless vacation high-lighted by
flurries of activity? Gods may also exercise some free will when
mortals meet them on the HeroPlane or other places such as the
Underworld. Such free will might of course be exercised by a God
toasting you with a fireball for your impertinence.

5) I came upon one passage "It is possible to change the role of a God
through HeroQuesting, provided you are supported by your community. It
is very difficult to do this, and the amount by which you can change a
God is limited in practical terms. Essentially, you force the God to
re-enact a similar, but different set of myths, or emphasize some
myths over others." I would like to add that when you interfere in the
great myths, such as those which sustain the power and nature of Gods,
by and large such actions only affect your own local mythology (i.e.
yourself, family and friends, or tribe.). If, however, you were a
powerful Khan of a Praxian tribe, weakening a particular God would
have a more profound effect ON YOUR OWN TURF! This may be because the
Khan is supported by the power of many followers. Despite all this,
the nature of the God in question, averaged the world over, would
still vary very little, and the effects of the Khan's actions might
only last a season, a year, or his own lifetime. Of course
occasionally HeroQuesters are far more successful, but these are the
exceptions, and such a powerful HeroQuest would be soundly opposed by
Heroes of the cult you were acting against. Effectively, it is
extremely difficult to change the nature of existing renowned Gods.
The notable exception to this rule being the God-Learners with their
whole culture dedicated to doing just that, and I doubt if this is an
experiment anyone would want to repeat.

6) It seems to me that a God's power, if not existence, depends on the
quality and quantity of worship. The more worship a God has, the
greater the power of their actions within contexts allowed by the
compromise. This is somewhat of a `dragonewt or the egg' situation, in
that a God must gain prestige before getting followers, and therefore
must rely on their own natural abilities to support them before they
become major Gods. So a God must have an independent existence in some
reality before attaining position and influence. Godhood is chancy
therefore, and theoretically an upstart new godling could displace one
of the major gods, although this rarely happens. As we know, the
established Gods do fight amongst themselves and rise and fall in
degrees of power on a regular basis. Defining the exact extent of how
a God's Power is related to the number and quality of worshippers is
as futile as attempting to calculate how many elementals can dance on
the head of a pin, or how many Nochet scholars it would take to

produce a coherent work of any merit. The questions delve into arenas
of existence beyond natural comprehension.

7) It is notable that Gods do appear to lose abilities within their
cult if the numbers of their worshippers dwindle, however as the
GodPlane is effectively timeless, such a God may `sometime' burst back
into power, having an effective religious rebirth. The power of a God
may dwindle in different ways, which seem to follow no pattern. Only
the God Learners ever attempted to catalogue such phenomena. Examples
of a God losing power are:

     loss of available spells to be granted to worshippers
     loss of allied cults
     being restricted in the type and amount of divine interventions
     being defeated in battle in a major myth having one's worshippers
     decrease substantially in number losing all worship in a
     geographical area

One thing is certain, although there is no pattern, when a God has
their number of worshippers significantly reduced in an area, their
influence in this area is correspondingly reduced, but isn't that like
saying when Yelm goes to the Underworld, Glorantha gets dark?

8) If a God is effectively extinguished in power, this does not mean
they cease to exist. They simply cease to exist in the perceptions of
mortals. Where do they go? I for one would not be so arrogant as to
attempt to answer such a question. Perhaps at a later date such a God
may be reborn under a new name with a new set of abilities slightly
different from the old? Perhaps they drift the deserts of the kingdoms
that once lauded them, lost spirits, noticed only as disturbances in
the sand, crying out for followers? (I once thought this happened to
me, but I don't really know, I was young, overly imaginative, and
horrendously drunk at the time.) Perhaps they exist only in myth
(although to them this might be a huge and varied existence), and may
be encountered there by champions looking for a patron deity to match
their needs. Perhaps all of the above are true, the point being, how
can we tell? How do we dare to question the nature of Gods, when our
very perceptions may be inadequate to process such information???

9) Whilst a debate rages amongst philosophers about the existence of
Gods depending on worship, I have discussed how difficult it is to
analyze such. Nevertheless the weaker Gods face this problem much more
than the established powerful Gods, who have a long way to fall before
they must begin to face possible total loss of influence. If,
theoretically, a powerful God was reduced to a few hundred
worshippers, it would effectively become a Spirit Cult, with
observable loss of power. If these few hundred were put to the sword
(and I would happily do it myself if they were these insufferable
Nochet scholars), even one dedicated follower could act for the God,
but its powers would be limited indeed. When this follower died of
natural, or other, causes, the God would effectively be non-existant,
but as I have pointed out, time and again, this is non-existent only
to mortal perceptions. Perhaps they merely go to visit relatives or
look after their estate on some other plane?

I hope this piece satisfies your curiosity my lord, and ends my debt
to you.

Your former servant.
- ----------------------------------------------------------

It is suggested that this document is now located at the Pavis Lankhor
Mhy temple around the year 1619/20. It was accidentally left there as
a bookmark by a paying customer, a surly and pushy sorceror type with
a bad attitude, who was rumored to have been looking for information
on the infamous Snakepipe Hollow, and has not been seen since. The
bookmark was left in a rambling piece on the possibility of Gods dying
and being born, and what stages of development this would entail.

------------------------------

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