Sorcery in Glorantha

From: JOVANOVIC@CUCCFA.CCC.COLUMBIA.EDU
Date: Mon 14 Jun 1993 - 18:09:11 EEST



David, some additional details, so you can see where I'm coming from -

With respect to Malkioni - I exclude the Brithini and Vadeli, since they are atheists and at best seem to pay lip service to Malkion and the Invisible God, and also the Stygians and Carmanians, as Malkion and the Invisible God seem to treated as anything ranging from the head of a pantheon to an equal among others to an inferior (what seems to have occured in Carmania and in some extreme Stygian sects) - I suspect if you looked at individual Stygian groups some might qualify as Malkioni and some would not.

The cults of the East Isles grant divine magic but use sorcery instead of cult spirit magic (the Kralori may function in a similar fashion).

With respect to Pamaltela, the human portions of Umathela are dominated by Malkioni, but Fonrit and the human portions of the Maslo peninsula seem to be dominated by non-Malkioni sorcerers (the Fonritians sorcerers appear to be either unaligned or also worship the local cults, the humans of Maslo distrust gods and avoid worshipping them as much as possible).

With respect to Carmania - the information presented there was the most recent (as of 1992) information we could get from Greg, primarily through Phil Davis, who was kind enough to ask him for additional details, some of which supercede (or contradict) those of the unpublished Invisible God writeup, which I think originated in the mid eighties. The newer information seemed to indicate that the Invisible God had simply been assigned a subsidiary role in the culture, which was now dominated by the cults of the Lunar pantheon. Previously the cults of the Orlanth pantheon had been at first treated as inferiors, then slowly began to grow in power and influence, until their defeat at the hands of the Lunar Empire, at which point the Lunar pantheon became dominant. Also, while the _unpublished_ Invisible God writeup dismisses the Carmanians, the _published_ material in the Glorantha set specifically refers to the Carmanian Heresy as being extant. As best as we can tell, it is the most current information available. Frankly, I fully expect it to change as Greg continues to develop the Lunar Empire and people such as Nick develop the region. If you have any ideas on how to add depth, culture or clarify it, I'd be very interested - we'd be very interested in getting Nick's input on Carmania as well.

I think you're quite correct - a book such as "Sects of the West" (a la Cults of Prax) would be fantastic, but it would take an entire book to do justice to the region. What I think RQIV should do is present the basic rules for sorcery, publish a sample sect (much as RQ2 presented the cult of Orlanth), then let later publications on the West futher detail the various schools. Considering how litte we know about the West, and that we'd want the basic sorcery rules to work for Malkioni, Carmanians, atheists, Brithini, Mostali, Vadeli and Kralori alike, I think we have to be careful about how to do this - I think that a sect system, where the additional description in the sect describes unique spells and manipulations, spell names used, prohibited spells and manipulations and the social role of the sect is the way to go - this is a model similar to how cult descriptions currently function, and they seem to be fairly successful. More social information would be very useful - this is something generally lacking from the divine cult writeups as well, but to a certain extent this is because it really isn't available yet - as Carmania is developed, hopefully this will become available.

Unaligned sorcerers - here I have to disagree - a number of human cultures exist that use unaligned sorcery (God Forgot and Fonrit come to mind), and I think there is a role in Glorantha for the solitary independent researcher or hermetic mage. Of course they won't be welcome in barbaric cultures such as Sartar, but even so I suspect an unaligned sorcerer that kept his (or her) mouth shut would do better in Sartar than a Seven Mothers or Malkioni missionary. The witch hunting analog suggested by Jeorg strikes me as apt. However, I think they could manage fairly well in a number of cultures - the Lunar Empire strikes me as an open, accepting and civilized culture - if they accept broo and tentacled gladiators, I sincerly doubt they would have much trouble with an unaligned sorcerer. As for the West, most of the Malkioni sects seem to consider each other heretics, and yet they manage to coexist - I doubt an unaligned sorcerer would be considered much worse than another heretic (or a Brithini) there. The Glorantha book, under Carmania, mentions the use of unaligned sorcery in Carmania.

Jeorg -

You're quite correct - I think the different sects of sorcery should vary in spell selection and availability, manipulations used, and form of familiars used, not to mention the role their sorcery plays in the society the sect belongs to.

With respect to the origin of humanity according to the Brithini, what I've heard is that the Brithini claim that they are the only true humans, other races of humanity are degenerates that interbred with beasts or the descendants of beasts that tried to assume human form (the Hsunchen).

I assume you meant to say Umathelan sorcery was Rokari dominated, correct?

With respect to Kralori sorcery being unified, that's why I specifically only referred to Kralorela and the Kingdom of Ignorance - I think you'll see far more variation in the East Isles in terms of what sorts of sorcery they use. I actually think the Vormain have diverged even further, as each priestly caste appears to use a unique color magic seen nowhere else in Glorantha.

Sir Ethelrist a Brithini - this is based on comments by Sandy Peterson (which may or may not be correct). My understanding was that Sir Ethelrist and the Black Horse Troop were Brithini (or very close), but that Muse Roost was built on an Arkati holy spot, and has Arkati living there and Arkati visitors as a consequence. Also, an interesting side note - anyone think that Sir Ethelrist may have originally come from Pamaltela? The reference to his West Jungle origins might make sense if he originally came from a Brithini (or Malkioni) colony in Umathela.

Unaligned sorcery vs. atheists - the difference was minor - more like an agnostic vs. an atheist - I saw an unaligned sorcerer as a sorcerer that might worship or pay tribute to a local god or a cult member that practiced sorcery (such as a Chalana Arroy healer) but whose sorcery was not really related to their worship (unlike the East Isles).

Tom -

As best as I can make out, sorcery seems to have a strong association with logic, reasoning and law - e.g. the Kingdom of Logic, Brithini, the Invisible God, the God Learners, Mostali, etc. - that may be why it is less popular amongst chaotics.

Maurice -

"Enter soulless in Glory" - very nice.

Adrian -

Actually, I think you're quite correct - I believe there is a good chance that the Invisible God was a fairly recent development (in the Godtime scale of things) - possibly a replacement for the World Machine, which was broken when its main pillar was shattered by Chaos.

Oliver



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