A Rool Book Ate My Fetish

From: John Hughes (nysalor@primus.com.au)
Date: Sun 19 Mar 2000 - 17:04:54 EET

Heys folks


Oliver, I'm *really* enjoying the Fresser letters. Great stuff! And all the
folks behind the Alkoth descriptions - brillig! (Not that I'm ever likely
to visit mind you - it sounds just like Butlins).


>><< So, question is, from the write-up on the Issaries website, it looks
>>old style Spirit magic is no more -

>> The common man has access to magic, but the same rules are not used
>>describe the magic.
>> However, the specific spells from RQ are no more, and you only
really do
>>spirit magic if you in some way worship spirits (as the Praxians, hsunchen,
>>kolatings, etc. do). Low level worshippers of gods just use low level
>>(divine) magic.

Given that spirit magic is more important in low-level, "Tommy Trollkin and
the flint spear initiands scrambling for turnips and dreaming of stealing a
sheep" -type campaigns, you can understand this particular aspect of HW,
and possibly not be too worried about spirit magic falling into one of its
scalability holes. I guess there may be problems too, (or at least caution)
regarding the-formerly-much-loved-game-that-shall-not-be-mentioned
(FMLGTSNBM) that is now owned by a mega-corp expansionist chaos empire
employing cadres of lawyers organised into magical schools worshipping the
divine breech-of-copyright. And of course, most low-level combat spirit
magic in HW would merely 'translate' as die adds or disads, nothing half as
sexy or graphic as having your right arm crisped to a negatively
hit-pointed cinder by a lucky firearrow. Storytelling description rulz, ok!

Having said that, pretending that spirit magic ain't important or doesn't
exist would strike me as a particularly daft ret con. Heortling Orlanthi
for example, have always had a strong animistic subtradition mixed with
their theism, and in HW terms this means remembering those inherited
fetishes (aka spell matrices) in our precious hundred word writeups. The
standardised character generation doesn't exactly highlight this, but GMs
errr narrators can and will. Rules for fetishes and spirits who supply
spells are part of HW.

General release may produce 'unofficial' translations of old spirit spells
in the first months of general release, even if only as part of (equally
and properly unofficial) 'translating your character of fifteen years from
FMLGTSNBM' guides. I suspect there may be significant upscaling -
Disruption 15w anyone?

Remember too that the spirit magic rules and descriptions themselves were
game artefacts, and manifested somewhat differently in play than in
'gloranthan reality'.

I guess the general point of my raving is this: HW ain't Glorantha, any
more than RQ or PDP or for that matter KODP is Glorantha. They are all
descriptive systems, limited and shorthand descriptions of Glorantha, and
each has its holes, simplifications, blind spots, ommissions, distortions
of scale and liminal areas. This isn't a criticism - they're all fine
games - it's a fact of life for *any* game that seeks to describe a whole
physical and cultural universe within the confines of a single volume or
seven. (Any universe is a Goedel universe. Any brain is an enculturated

What each GM errr narrator has to decide in consultation with players is
what is more important - the game system (for streamlined play and
simplicity) or loyalty to Gloranthan reality as known from the many
sources, which means fiddling with the rules a bit when they oversimplify
or obscure. No game can reflect the totality completely, some form of
compromise is always necessary. Different folks have different goals, which
is why I'm responding to the post in the first place. IMG. IMHW.


(desperately seeking java and scones).

nysalor@primus.com.au John Hughes

 ... a flying arrow, a crashing wave, night old ice,
a coiled snake, a bride's bed talk, a broken sword,
the play of bears, a king's son.

                                           Havamal 86.


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