Commentaries

From: Nick Brooke (100270.337@CompuServe.COM)
Date: Sat 05 Jun 1993 - 22:41:52 EEST




David Scott & Robyn King-Nitschke:

Me, too. It's the way people dive in with rules systems without trying to explain what they think Sorcerers *are* or *do* that upsets me. Maybe I'm a Gloranthan purist ("Maybe," he says!), but divorcing the system from the world and from society at large is alarming.

Q: "So, what do you do for a living?"
A: "Actually, I create moving walls of various elements,

    occasionally throwing lumps of them at other people."

Q: "Work in a factory, do you?"
A: "No, I'm a powerful sorcerer, if you must know."
Q: "Hmmm...  Does anyone else where you come from do this?"
A: "Yes, it's very popular out West."
Q: "Why?"

See, you may find Storm Bullies banal and simple-minded, but at least they have a *reason* for going around killing things and drinking too much. I don't yet see any comparable explanation for why a Western Sorcerer would want to spend years of his life learning to manipulate these various elements, etc. "Lust for power" doesn't really satisfy me as a cultural trait (there are nice quiet Wizards who only want to help people). "Lust for knowledge" hasn't yet been quantified and given a rules-based reality (i.e: there are no incentives for sorcerers to learn a lot of theory under the current rules, *except* for the increase in magical power it provides).  Now, if learning your Immortality spell required a load of "useless" theoretical knowledge, then I'd be more favourably inclined towards it. Anyone out there have any ideas?

Discussion point: Vivamort is a Western Sect, not a Rune Cult. If you can drain the life energy from someone else, while living forever yourself, what are you? Either a Vampire or else a Sorcerer (note how many Gloranthan Vampires come from the West). If we can crack this little puzzle, we may know what it is that other, more morally-based sorcerers are trying to achieve... what makes them tick.



What Makes The West Tick?
(speculative stuff)

The crux of the matter is, I think, the relationship of the Westerners to Death. From their Brithini roots, you'd expect them to be almost obsessive about it: certainly, the "oddity" of their belief in Solace in Glory (to their fellow Gloranthans), and the way non-Westerners assume they're doomed to eternal extinction, are pointers in this direction.

Common folk and common Wizards hope to attain Solace after death, by being basically "good" (whether this means paying taxes on time, slaying the infidel, or healing the sick would depend on your caste and outlook). The Hrestoli and Rokari would differ as to who can decide whether or not you were supposed to do a particular "good" action: see further, below.

Uncommon folk (and this is bound to include several Wizards and Kings) hope to postpone death for as long as they possibly can, by legitimate/pious means if possible. I dare say this seems reasonable and human to most of us. After such an extended life, they too can expect to enter Solace.

We know that Piety helps you to live longer, though as yet we have no mechanism for it (and probably won't until Personality Traits are added to the game). However, so does Sorcery (= "bad magic"). And the impious sorcerers either fear death as extinction (a belief shared by the Brithini, who apparently cannot Tap anything that's transcended this mortal coil to enter Solace in Glory and therefore refuse to believe in its existence), or perhaps fear a post-mortem punishment for their sins (i.e: Hell -- not yet mentioned in existing Western sources, but a likely contamination from barbarian theologies. I'd expect the Rokari Wizards to be keen on this: a life of drudgery may seem no better than extinction, but it's certainly better than an eternity of torment). So they do anything they can to avoid dying: including Immortality, Paganism, Vampirism, various depraved Vadeli practices (which I'll write up some day), probably a specialised form of Tapping or two... anything at all! (They are SICK!)

With that as a background, let's get on to the business of how religion relates to everyday life in the West.

Malkion "laid down the Law": in his ancient scriptures you can find guides and prohibitions to all kinds of actions, some of them obscure or irrelevant to the "modern" world. Caste divisions are required because some necessary actions are utterly inappropriate to most people. Read Leviticus for ideas (yes, anticipating unfavourable comment: I don't want Malkionism to be a direct parallel for the monotheisms of our world; I'm saying this to show you simply what I *think* is going on. If you can think of a better way of letting people know, tell us). Stick to the letter of the Law, and you're bound to go to Solace when you die. Transgress, even in the slightest particular, and you thereby put your post-mortem existence at risk.

(Xemela probably did this when she broke caste boundaries to heal plague-stricken peasants. Psychological impact on her son, anybody?)

Hrestol brought "Joy of the Heart": doing what honestly feels *right* to you (in your heart) is not better than, but is an acceptable variation from, the Law. So Hrestol would allow you to perform actions that incurred "ritual impurity", if these were the source of a greater good (real-world parallel: saving someone's life on the Sabbath). It's a more optimistic and liberal religion: you get to make your own mind up about what's Right and Wrong, and are freed from the bugbears of a literally-minded priesthood. (Might need to Confess to them and clear up or atone for any mistakes... certainly the Hrestoli Wizards will want some influence on what you can get up to). The appeal of this to a newly-instituted Knightly class is obvious: earlier Malkioni soldiers had to follow orders from superior castes or risk (??? Death / Sin / Impurity ???), but the new Hrestoli Knights can make up their own minds, and go fighting & questing as individuals without priestly / lordly back-up.

Of course, this revision to Malkioni rigidity rather depends on the individual's conscience. With which, as we all know, Nysalor Illumination can play merry hell. So there's big trouble in the late Dawn Age, and worse trouble later when it transpires that some God Learner scientists can intellectually justify *anything*. Result: the reaction led by Rokar, against Hrestoli Liberalism and back towards a more pristine, scripturally-oriented Malkionism with a strong priesthood and the strengthening of caste divisions.

(Though possibly caste divisions were almost as strong in Loskalm before the Syndics Ban as they are now in Seshnela: discussion point? Certainly, I'd like to meet one of the Old Hrestoli from the Castle Coast and compare him to a New Hrestoli from Loskalm...)

Anyone more annoyed by that than they would be by another Sorcery system?



G. Fried:

Perhaps you could post a Prosopaedia-style paragraph description of any new cults you've written, so we can decide whether or not to ask for the whole thing. Uralog looked to be nicely thought out (if obscurely located), but I still feel that the best way to present a new and strange cult is through a scenario (so we can get a "feel" for how it works in the world), and that the RQ Daily isn't really a good place to post scenarios... Can you write Finnish, perhaps??



Brian Hebert:

> I want to clarify for Joerg that I wasn't proposing adding
> anything to PC or NPC sheets. My idea was to quantify the
> attitudes of *social groups* not individuals.

Interesting: I'd have thought the two systems went hand in hand (which is why I probably confused you by rabbiting on about personality traits yesterday!).

My fears re: any mechanised system for representing social complexities really stem from my days as a Traveller player (yes, "I Was A Teenage Traveller Player", a familiar horror story), where I learned that any fool or machine could produce a list of numbers, but making them make sense took ages! If you, or Mike Dawson, or anyone else out there can get around this, I'd like to see the results. As I admitted yesterday, I was *very* anti- the Personality Traits in Pendragon until I actually played using them, and then found that I loved them! So you know that my judgement in these matters isn't perfect...



Ed Wallman:

> What I really want to post are my convincing explanations
> of why the Air Rune is REALLY associated with INT and why
> the Fire Rune is REALLY opposite the Beast Rune...

They're what I REALLY want to see! Unless this is a piss-taking parody, of course... (no offence: I only say this because I honestly can't see the connections you propose!). I'd love to see those explanations, if they can be written up some time.

Playing in Gloranthan history is an idea that's always intrigued me: does anyone else out there do it? Where? When? And, what happened??


	Nick
	====

	    FLA    
	FUR     BIS
	    FLE

@ QUIS EST ISTE QUI VENIT @



This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.7 : Fri 10 Oct 2003 - 01:31:00 EEST