Re: Lanbril & the thieves guild

From: mickey galeotti (mickey@galeotti.freeserve.co.uk)
Date: Tue 01 Aug 2000 - 00:22:20 EEST


This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

- ------=_NextPart_000_000F_01BFFB3D.CAF08380
Content-Type: text/plain;
        charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

(from Mark G, not Mickey, actually - just not posting this through my =
own email account!)

Loren Miller wrote:

"Do the Sicilian Cosa Nostra worship a god of thievery? Do the Japanese =
Yakuza? Do the Russian Mafia? No. Then why would any secret society =
worship a god that makes their secret so apparent?"

OK, they don't worship a god of thievery as such but.

(a) there is a very distinct mystic tradition, even if most people pay =
it only lip-service, in most long-lasting organised crime cultures: =
oaths of loyalty, propitiating saints or spirits, etc. Even the =
traditionalists within the Russian mafiya have a complex iconography of =
tattoos based around both Christian and pagan symbolism. In part, this =
is because common myths help create unity and loyalty, but it does mean =
that there is certainly a basis on which such worship could be based.

(b) then add in the fact that this is Glorantha, full of spirits happy =
both to grant their worshippers magic and actively proselytise. The =
Mafia Godfather or Yakuza Oyabun may not worship a thief deity, but if =
one was present and clearly able to provide all sorts of useful magic, I =
could see them tempted.

(c) there is an interesting and undefined balance between cults emerging =
because societies require them and because deities exist and therefore =
foster them. So a crass and simple answer would be 'Lanbril exists =
because he exists.' But beyond this, remember that this is a world in =
which, with Selven Hara, the Lunars even have a deity of travel agents =
and tour guides! Is a thief god really that much more improbable?

"It would make much more sense if the secret societies would emphasize =
the thieving and secretive aspects of the dominant god of their =
culture."

Isn't this an argument for cultural monotheism? The warriors would just =
join subcults bringing out the more martial aspects of the main deity, =
etc. The only difference is in cultures where the main deity is =
secretive, thieving, etc. However, even nasty ruling deities tend =
towards a commitment to the maintenance of a set of laws (even if =
unpleasant ones - in their own terms Stalinism and Nazism often worked =
strictly legalistically), and value order over disorder, central power =
over free enterprise.

"Dara Happan thieves circles would be centered around a patriarchal =
figure, an elder thief whose decrees are obeyed instantly. They would =
use shargashites and other unsavory hirelings, buserite assistance, but =
would be controlled by the chief and his council who are worshippers of =
Yelm in his Basko mask. Their only loyalty is to their own blood."

One of the problems here is that drawing so heavily on such a variety of =
faiths immediately creates problems with loyalties. Where do the =
*ultimate* loyalties of those buserians, shargashites, etc lie? With =
kin, with the criminal ring, or with their deity? It is no coincidence =
that most of the long-lived RW criminal societies (especially Mafia, =
Yakuza and Triads) include in their - let's call it initiation - to full =
membership (eg, becoming a Mafia 'made man') include a ceremonial =
forswearing of existing kin, etc ties, with all devotion going to the =
society. Indeed, to me this is reminiscent of Humakti severing their kin =
ties. Of course, this is rarely a complete break (though 'family' is =
often a metaphorical rather than exact term when talking about OC), but =
it does emphasise the problems which could emerge in such =
multi-denominational gangs.

Of course, there will be criminals from every faith, but maybe their =
place will not - generally - be within OC. They may be freelancers, or =
just ordinary criminals.

"Orlanthi thieves rings would be led by an Orlanthi devotee who worships =
Orlanth's thieving aspects. There might be a Eurmali or two, and several =
Humakti and Uroxi warriors serving the purpose of the organization, and =
the only loyalty of the ring is to the bloodline of the leaders."

So would those Humakti really be kept within OC by kin links? Would =
Humakt be happy with this arrangement, or is he just a handy arsenal of =
death magics? And just what are 'Orlanth's thieving aspects'? He stole =
from rivals, but does not seem to advocate secret theft within Orlanthi =
society? Cattle raiding, after all, is not regarded as true theft. Look =
at Ian Thomson's Orlanth the Thief subcult on the Issaries website and =
you will see a finely-judged approach, which is directed not at fleecing =
fellow Orlanthi but at striking back against cult enemies and invaders. =
Is an Orlanthi who is made outlaw (for good reason) still properly =
Orlanthi? What would Orlanth think?

"Carmanian thieving houses."

Carmania is one of my blind(ish) spots - not knowing as much about the =
culture as I'd like, I'll pass on this point, although I'd imagine the =
general points I've made would hold good.

"Pavisite thieves would be led by someone with weird, outlandish powers =
(someone much like Pavis) and would consist of assorted nomads, =
heortling exiles, uz, aldryami, and other oddballs. Hmmm, they are much =
like adventurer bands. Who'd a thunk it?"

Here I can agree with you to a great degree, given just how unusual a =
cultural, mythic and even racial mixing pot Pavis is. But I think that =
there could *also* be Lanbrili - whose magics would give them a distinct =
competitive advantage. And it is certainly true that the exact form of =
OC and thief cults will depend on the environment, whether busy seaport =
(lots of scope for smuggling, etc, and probably links with gangs in =
trading partner cities) or a harshly-regulated civilised city (where the =
OC probably needs to be working with either the authorities or at least =
corrupted members thereof). This is what I was getting at with my =
'floating third affinity in my version of Lanbril on the Issaries =
website (though watch this space for alternative versions from Ian and =
Steve Martin).

Having splurged out a thousand words or so of rebuttal, I do just want =
to end by saying that I'm really pleased that these issues are being =
raised on the Digest. Let the philologists and anthropologists have =
their say...but let's talk some crime, too! On balance, I think you make =
a great deal of sense in your own terms - but don't fully consider the =
impact Glorantha's magic has on OC. In Glorantha, unlike the real world, =
cult affiliation is one of the key distinctions within society, and =
tends to link closely with political/social/economic role. Warriors have =
warrior gods; scholars scholar gods; so "why Lanbril?" - why not?

All the best,

Mark

Mark Galeotti (hia15@his.keele.ac.uk)

- ------=_NextPart_000_000F_01BFFB3D.CAF08380
Content-Type: text/html;
        charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<HTML><HEAD>
<META content=3D"text/html; charset=3Diso-8859-1" =
http-equiv=3DContent-Type>
<META content=3D"MSHTML 5.00.2014.210" name=3DGENERATOR>
<STYLE></STYLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY bgColor=3D#f0e8d8>
<DIV><FONT face=3DVerdana size=3D2>
<P align=3Djustify>(from Mark G, not Mickey, actually &#8211; just not =
posting this=20
through my own email account!)</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>Loren Miller wrote:</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>"Do the Sicilian Cosa Nostra worship a god of =
thievery? Do the=20
Japanese Yakuza? Do the Russian Mafia? No. Then why would any secret =
society=20
worship a god that makes their secret so apparent?"</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>OK, they don&#8217;t worship a god of thievery as =
such but&#8230;</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>(a) there is a very distinct mystic tradition, even =
if most=20
people pay it only lip-service, in most long-lasting organised crime =
cultures:=20
oaths of loyalty, propitiating saints or spirits, etc. Even the =
traditionalists=20
within the Russian mafiya have a complex iconography of tattoos based =
around=20
both Christian and pagan symbolism. In part, this is because common =
myths help=20
create unity and loyalty, but it does mean that there is certainly a =
basis on=20
which such worship could be based.</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>(b) then add in the fact that this is Glorantha, full =
of=20
spirits happy both to grant their worshippers magic and actively =
proselytise.=20
The Mafia Godfather or Yakuza Oyabun may not worship a thief deity, but =
if one=20
was present and clearly able to provide all sorts of useful magic, I =
could see=20
them tempted.</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>(c) there is an interesting and undefined balance =
between cults=20
emerging because societies require them and because deities exist and =
therefore=20
foster them. So a crass and simple answer would be &#8216;Lanbril exists =
because he=20
exists.&#8217; But beyond this, remember that this is a world in which, =
with Selven=20
Hara, the Lunars even have a deity of travel agents and tour guides! Is =
a thief=20
god really that much more improbable?</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>"It would make much more sense if the secret =
societies would=20
emphasize the thieving and secretive aspects of the dominant god of =
their=20
culture."</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>Isn&#8217;t this an argument for cultural monotheism? =
The warriors=20
would just join subcults bringing out the more martial aspects of the =
main=20
deity, etc. The only difference is in cultures where the main deity is=20
secretive, thieving, etc. However, even nasty ruling deities tend =
towards a=20
commitment to the maintenance of a set of laws (even if unpleasant ones =
&#8211; in=20
their own terms Stalinism and Nazism often worked strictly =
legalistically), and=20
value order over disorder, central power over free enterprise.</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>"Dara Happan thieves circles would be centered around =
a=20
patriarchal figure, an elder thief whose decrees are obeyed instantly. =
They=20
would use shargashites and other unsavory hirelings, buserite =
assistance, but=20
would be controlled by the chief and his council who are worshippers of =
Yelm in=20
his Basko mask. Their only loyalty is to their own blood."</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>One of the problems here is that drawing so heavily =
on such a=20
variety of faiths immediately creates problems with loyalties. Where do =
the=20
*ultimate* loyalties of those buserians, shargashites, etc lie? With =
kin, with=20
the criminal ring, or with their deity? It is no coincidence that most =
of the=20
long-lived RW criminal societies (especially Mafia, Yakuza and Triads) =
include=20
in their &#8211; let&#8217;s call it initiation &#8211; to full =
membership (eg, becoming a Mafia=20
&#8216;made man&#8217;) include a ceremonial forswearing of existing =
kin, etc ties, with all=20
devotion going to the society. Indeed, to me this is reminiscent of =
Humakti=20
severing their kin ties. Of course, this is rarely a complete break =
(though=20
&#8216;family&#8217; is often a metaphorical rather than exact term when =
talking about OC),=20
but it does emphasise the problems which could emerge in such=20
multi-denominational gangs.</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>Of course, there will be criminals from every faith, =
but maybe=20
their place will not &#8211; generally &#8211; be within OC. They may be =
freelancers, or=20
just ordinary criminals.</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>"Orlanthi thieves rings would be led by an Orlanthi =
devotee who=20
worships Orlanth's thieving aspects. There might be a Eurmali or two, =
and=20
several Humakti and Uroxi warriors serving the purpose of the =
organization, and=20
the only loyalty of the ring is to the bloodline of the leaders."</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>So would those Humakti really be kept within OC by =
kin links?=20
Would Humakt be happy with this arrangement, or is he just a handy =
arsenal of=20
death magics? And just what are &#8216;Orlanth&#8217;s thieving =
aspects&#8217;? He stole from=20
rivals, but does not seem to advocate secret theft within Orlanthi =
society?=20
Cattle raiding, after all, is not regarded as true theft. Look at Ian =
Thomson&#8217;s=20
Orlanth the Thief subcult on the Issaries website and you will see a=20
finely-judged approach, which is directed not at fleecing fellow =
Orlanthi but at=20
striking back against cult enemies and invaders. Is an Orlanthi who is =
made=20
outlaw (for good reason) still properly Orlanthi? What would Orlanth =
think?</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>"Carmanian thieving houses&#8230;"</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>Carmania is one of my blind(ish) spots &#8211; not =
knowing as much=20
about the culture as I&#8217;d like, I&#8217;ll pass on this point, =
although I&#8217;d imagine the=20
general points I&#8217;ve made would hold good.</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>"Pavisite thieves would be led by someone with weird, =

outlandish powers (someone much like Pavis) and would consist of =
assorted=20
nomads, heortling exiles, uz, aldryami, and other oddballs. Hmmm, they =
are much=20
like adventurer bands. Who'd a thunk it?"</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>Here I can agree with you to a great degree, given =
just how=20
unusual a cultural, mythic and even racial mixing pot Pavis is. But I =
think that=20
there could *also* be Lanbrili &#8211; whose magics would give them a =
distinct=20
competitive advantage. And it is certainly true that the exact form of =
OC and=20
thief cults will depend on the environment, whether busy seaport (lots =
of scope=20
for smuggling, etc, and probably links with gangs in trading partner =
cities) or=20
a harshly-regulated civilised city (where the OC probably needs to be =
working=20
with either the authorities or at least corrupted members thereof). This =
is what=20
I was getting at with my &#8216;floating third affinity in my version of =
Lanbril on=20
the Issaries website (though watch this space for alternative versions =
from Ian=20
and Steve Martin).</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>Having splurged out a thousand words or so of =
rebuttal, I do=20
just want to end by saying that I&#8217;m really pleased that these =
issues are being=20
raised on the Digest. Let the philologists and anthropologists have =
their=20
say...but let&#8217;s talk some crime, too! On balance, I think you make =
a great deal=20
of sense in your own terms &#8211; but don&#8217;t fully consider the =
impact Glorantha&#8217;s=20
magic has on OC. In Glorantha, unlike the real world, cult affiliation =
is one of=20
the key distinctions within society, and tends to link closely with=20
political/social/economic role. Warriors have warrior gods; scholars =
scholar=20
gods; so "why Lanbril?" &#8211; why not?</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>All the best,</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>Mark</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P>
<P align=3Djustify>Mark Galeotti (hia15@his.keele.ac.uk)</P>
<P align=3Djustify></P></FONT></DIV></BODY></HTML>

- ------=_NextPart_000_000F_01BFFB3D.CAF08380--

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


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.7 : Fri 13 Jun 2003 - 22:22:05 EEST