Some magic, and almost no mention of sorcery

From: Joerg Baumgartner (joe@sartar.toppoint.de)
Date: Sun 20 Jun 1993 - 20:43:34 EEST


Extension on Spirit Magic/Lunar magic:
I think this concept from RQ2 made it into RQ3 only in the form of Lunar Magic. The description for the divine spell Extension expplicitly says that it prolongs divine spells' duration.

While I have a player using Lunar magic in my campaign (not a Riddler, since I play non-Glorantha), I doubt it would become very popular with regard to the effects of duration. Simply adding up another five minutes for an extra point of Prolong was the reason nobody was interested in this, in addition to it's unreliability with the Moon phases.

In my campaign world the druids use Lunar magic, both in divine and spirit magic. I also devised some stellar magic for sky worshippers, depending on the planets' and non-fixed stars' movement through the fix stars' constellations. I still lack some computer simulation to automatize the stellar movements for a fictional (and I fear not overly possible) sky, so I make it up as it comes along. Somebody out there who wants to discuss this directly by email?
(BTW, I'm using the Oldtimer Atari ST, and won't change system too soon, so
if anybody has a programme for another system, I'm only interested in portable software.)

My players generally like medium to long duration spells, and we think that some effects are too measly for the life force (MP) provided. The method of applying Extension to spirit spells seems somehow right, but I hesitate to make it generally available on my game world. On Glorantha it is in RQ3 Lunar magic (nowhere stated expressis verbis, but I think clearly implied in the introduction of Lunar Magic in the Red Goddess section of GoG plus the Extension description in the Magic Book), available only to compromise-breaking Nysalorian Illuminates.

The problem I see with medium- or long-term duration for magic is game- and magic-balance. If such magic is possible, what amounts are actually existant in the game world, and how easily is it obtained?

When I look at Glorantha, there is an awful (awe-inspiring?) lot of medium- or long-term magic running. Think about the City of Wonders, Godunya's bridges, and similar places that virtually radiate magic. Ok, these two examples involved god-like beings present on Glorantha, but I think that such beings tend to attract lesser magicians who do the detail work for their masters. As an aside to RQ4 design discussion, try to find the answer to this question, and incorporate it into the rules!

Compromise breaking: how else do you regard the making of gods from outside of time into time? I see no problem with persons in time who achieve apotheosis, they lived within the compromise, and when they reached immortality and divine status, they left the world for a divine plane existence. A fine example for this is the apotheosis of King Sartar and that of Pavis. Both remmoved themselves from the mundane plane. Pavis did so by being interred in his temple, Sartar used his tie to the Mobility rune to transform via the pyre at Boldhome. The Red Goddess, after one half wane of superheroism, did so too, creating the Red Moon and the crater, and left only her avatar, the Red Emperor, to act in the mundane world - a praxis acceptable within the compromise. After all, Belintar became the pharaoh and kept dying, integrating more and more individuals into his otherworld existence, Godunya does so in Kralorela. The only problem with the Red Goddess is that her original soul was summoned from before time, to inhabit the body of some street girl, today revered by the Lunars as Teelo Norri. Nysalor too was the recreation of a God slain in Godtime, i.e. outside of time. This deity was essentially Rashoran recreated, the last-born of the younger gods in god-time who taught insight of what the gods couldn't know, i.e. Chaos. He didn't teach too many, because he was slain by some of his pupils, the unholy trio.
CoT states that Rashoran taught his secret to Humakt, Greg Stafford now says that once he believed that Humakt was an illuminate, but he doesn't think so not any more. I conclude that the teachings of Rashoran were the understanding of what chaos means, and the part Humakt learned was about the death and destrucion of gods, not the acceptance of chaos. But this is my own design only.
Nysalor/Gbaji's creation was a violation of the compromise, and created Arkat in reaction.
An aside: The God Learners violated the Gods, not the compromise, for quite a long time. I think the secret that destroyed them (and that was destroyed with them) was how to violate the compromise, e.g. with the construction of terrible Flesh machine in God Forgot, and maybe included Gbaji's dark-side illumination to use the powers of Chaos. Glorantha tends to react heavily when the compromise is overstepped, and the Red Goddess managed until now not to cross that line. When she does, the Hero Wars will culminate, as glimpsed at in some undetailed prophecies collected in the volume known as King of Sartar.
Note however that the Lunar empire is not the only competitor in overstepping that line, there are others as well.

A magic of totally different kind:
Ki skills, or crafters' magic:
I want to have crafters trade secrets made a little more magic. This is especially interesting for smiths (who were magicians in the eyes of our ancestors, lived outside the normal society and did dreadful things), alchemists and artists. I liked the painter-sorcerer Paul Reilly portrayed here some time ago. I don't think it matters which RQ3 magic system we use, but the guild secret magics ought to use the appropriate craft skill as a measure of chance of success. The Ki skills from Land of Ninja were a valuable step into that direction, even though I didn't like the actual mechanics with POW sacrifices for mediocre results. What I want are magical smithies, mills or whatever that produce rare and strange products, such as masterfully crafted weapons, tools, armor, flour for lembas-like sustenance, works of art with a life of their own, etc. What I don't want is the involvement of professional magicians, i.e. regular priests, shamans or sorcerers in the actual process, although I'm all in for them to teach some of the necessary magical knowledge for these processes, such as ceremony or enchant skill. The little information I have about third eye blue makes them one of these organisations, with some alterations to the material posted some time ago.

Also this approach to magic leads to the question how much lasting effect magic has in the world.
I figured from the RQ-rules I know, that life force measured in POW and MP is used to create magic. The most common high-energy magic is worship of deities, where large amounts of regrowing life force, i.e. MP, is channeled in the worship ceremonies to the gods. If one compares magic to radio waves, the cult sites of Glorantha are big senders, focussed on some receiver in the God- or Spirit plane.
The Enchantment rules in RQ3 state that to achieve permanent effects, non-regrowing life force has to be spent, i.e. POW. Non-regrowing life force/POW can be spent for less permanent results, too. It can be used to enable a deity to take care of its own in Divine Intervention, opening a special link to the deity for magical purposes. While some people interpret DI in a way that the deity uses the life force of the DIing character to power the effect, I rather see it as a (if the character isn't unlucky and rolls exactly his/her POW) partial transition of the characters soul/life force to the deity, allowing magical energies to flow the same way in the other direction. No self-respecting deity would allow their followers to throw away parts of their already subscribed souls for mundane trivia, IMO. Why do you believe are there spirits of reprisal? They are just another tax-collecting (in this case soul-collecting) device to enforce the contract signed at initiation.
On the same line of reasoning I'd cover divine magic. A character "buying" divine spells transfers some of his life force into the realm of the deity, sustaining something like the shaman's fetch there. Sorcerers would use at least part of this for mundane (magical) benefits, as do shamans for "spiritual" (or better Spirit-Plane) benefits.

(Sorry if I mix up the RQ4 discussion, especially Paul Reilly's and Mike
Hollyday's new sorcery concept, and the digest a bit, but this cannot really be assigned too one side or the other. I could cross-post this, but I suppose that most people on the RQ4-list read the digest too. My main reason not to split ths list into a Gloranthan and a Generic faction: Then I'd have to post articles like this into three lists, and I'd get it back three times, and the answers in three different fora.)

So, if the power sacrificed for divine magic rests with the deity, and if a priest, acolyte or Runelord can reuse some of it in short terms, I have no problem with initiates who are able to do so in long terms. Sacrificing power to one's deity is a sign of piety, because the initiate strengthens the part of his soul/life-force already residing with the deity, and thereby his ties to the deity. He or she does so even in hose jobs like resurrection (by other sources than Chalana Arroy) or divine intervention, or priests' other one-use spells, but I prefer to view these hose jobs as extremely long in recovering, maybe longer than the individuals life time. Progress in the favor of the deity, most often coupled with progress in cult hierarchy, but especially in civilized societies not necessarily so, shortens recovery time.

Reusability of Divine Spells (again and again) I'd welcome a system that allows advance in reusability gradually, with special steps accompagnied by repeated initiation rites, such as entering a subcult, or entering priesthood as an acolyte or full-time parochial priest. I like the idea of agents of a deity having short- or medium-term reusable access to divine magic, as have some Runelords in RQ3 (I think none had in RQ2, unless advancing to Runelord/priest status). To link the definition of these terms to holy days or special worship services gives the Holy Days and High Holy Days some meaning, and I'd throw in pilgrimage to holy sites and worship held there on less holy Holy Days as an equivalent to regular worship on more holy Holy Days. A High Holy Day combined with a pilgrimage might even enhance the normal regaining abilty, and for at least one example I know for certan that there are multiannual cycles: the Lunar Wanes. In KoS another cycle is hinted at: Wakboth's 600-year cycle, in GS's conclusions. The gods are subject to time and its cycles, and cyclical magic is not a Lunar-only effect. Ever noticed how hard it is to cast a Sun-Spear at night? or a Lightning in cloudless Fire-season?

Enough for here and now. I'll elaborate further for Free INT 5 (appearing as soon as I have finished this article, the scenario and the layout. Soon.)

Joerg

PS: To Adam:
Why don't you go for a private internet access? Quite a lot of people on this list have one.

--
-- Joerg Baumgartner joe@sartar.toppoint.de



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