Re: "Loser" Quests; Lion King; Light

From: Nick Brooke (
Date: Sat 23 May 1998 - 12:43:38 EEST

Simon Phipp, keeper of a damn' fine website, writes:

> This is the argument for all "Loser" Quests. "We do it to prove our
> piety". It is, of course, a load of rubbish. HeroQuestors perform
> "Loser" Quests so that the Quest may eventually change to become a
> Victory Quest.

After nigh-on 2,000 years of Christianity, surely nobody believes the Son of
God was nailed up in Judaea any more? That would make him a "Loser"!
Likewise, surely no Malkioni celebrate Hrestol's Martyrdom; nor do
Yelmalions admire the steadfast endurance and obedience of their glorious
deity. Orlanthi have entirely forgotten their god's contrition,
responsibility and ordeals; Yelm-worshippers quietly ignore the "Underworld
bit" of their mythology...

This sounds utterly spurious to me. There is more in life (and myth) than
"Winner" Quests and "Loser" Quests. (Though if Gloranthan mythology were a
beat-em-up computer game for the Sony Playstation, maybe this wouldn't be

Richard, on making up myths:

> Myths are all, ultimately, just a bunch of stories. Waha kills Basmol,
> Tada kills Basmol, Orlanth kills Basmol, Bemurok kills Basmol, Mickey
> The Jackrabbit kills Basmol. Who did it? Is he dead? Did he exist? Does
> he exist (in the underworld)? Does it matter? Different cultures make
> these things up, using _some_ sort of inspiration, and then act them
> out. Their version matters to them, but not necessarily to anyone else.

Theistic thinking follows:


Lions (and Lion People) exist. Ergo, a god of lions exists. Let's call it
Basmol (or Basmola, or some other name in different cultures).

Lions are big and fierce and scary, and they eat people. This is a Bad

When we know about Bad Things happening, we get our gods and heroes to help
out. We learn how they dealt with the Bad Thing, and apply those lessons in
our own daily lives.

Ergo, cultures which live near lions will have stories about gods and heroes
who have fought and killed lions.

Cultures which live near lions and don't, will be eaten by lions.


Lion People worship the god of lions. (Let's call it Basmol).

They get to be bigger and fiercer and more scary by summoning up the powers
of their god. They also eat people, because their god does.

People who live near them think this is a Bad Thing. But the Lion People
don't care: they just cast the divine magics that make them into Big and
Fierce and Scary avatars of the Lion God, and go around killing people and
eating them. Because they can.

Until, some day, they get beaten for the first time. By a big tough hero, or
a small wily hero, or a hero dressed in a lionskin, or a hero wielding a
thunderbolt, or whatever variant suits.

Thereafter, this kind of thing happens more and more often.


The Lion People know that their most perfect embodiment of Basmol has been
defeated by the local victims.

The local victims know that they can beat the Lion People.

We add another myth to the corpus.


Did anyone "make something up"? No: the culture hero (or god) *did* defeat a
Lion, and the Lion in question *was* a really tough one embodying all of the
powers the Lion God gives his worshippers. These people *can* beat lions.
They tell the story in order to preserve knowledge of *how* to beat lions.

Is it "the same lion god" who's killed by all of these different culture
heroes? Of course not: any more than "the same first animal" is killed by
"the same first hunter" all around the world.

Is it necessary that the lion god be defeated by his opponents? Well, can
you think of any cultures today which live in mortal fear of being destroyed
by invading lions? I think not. Cultures that don't have a "we overcame the
lion god" story are rather pathetic, and may not survive; those that do take
this early step towards civilisation are the successful ones we see today.

Consider: Balazarings are still working on beating sabretooth tigers and
cave bears. Anyone particularly impressed by the Balazarings? Thought not...

On to Light:

> I think Nick didn't reckon heavenly bodies reflected one another.
> Not sure about Glorantha herself, though. Is Glorantha a heavenly
> body, though?

Couple of observations:

i) Gloranthan heavenly bodies shine by their own light. Moon rock glows red.
Here's a piece I carry around. See? Now, do you think the Red Moon only
shines with reflected sunlight? Surely, if she's made of red-glowing rock,
she glows red?

ii) "Glorantha" is the name of the universe: Underworld, Oceans, Continents,
Atmosphere, Sky Dome, and all that permeates them. In what sense can the
entire universe be a "Heavenly Body"? Certainly not in the Gloranthan sense:
Glorantha *contains* the Sun, and Stars, and Planets, and Moons, and all the
other heavenly bodies within it. Even the Blue Moon, bumping around the
outside of the Sky Dome, is "within" Glorantha.

iii) In the real world, objects that don't reflect light are invisible,
aren't they? But exporting RW physics to Glorantha is usually deeply
tiresome, and I don't propose to kick off any such argument. (After
Richard's Hawking extravaganza, I was worried he was about to start another
ner-ner thread -- "Nick says all of Glorantha is invisible!" -- hence my
caveats in past posts).

I repeat, one more time: what earthly difference would it make to anyone in
the world of Glorantha, whether or not she "reflects light"?

> Maybe I should commune with a few Lunes myself :-)

I sometimes fear, reading your posts, that you already have! ("How can
anyone look at the sky in daytime, when the sun's up?")

Joerg writes:

> Anyway, what's wrong with having Sir Narib as a Pithdaran?

Hear, hear!

Another way of phrasing the (rhetorical) question is, "If we're going to
have black-skinned Malkioni, let's at least export some to Dragon Pass where
normal gamers can meet them!"

I'm delighted with this.

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