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Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: joshua neff on October 16, 2003, 08:41:41 AM
I just read Ron's Daedalus article on Thed & rape in Glorantha, but I didn't want to tack my reactions onto the other Daedalus thread, just in case anyone else wants to chime in on this.

I remember your original post here on that, Ron. This article is even stronger. Good, good stuff. And it gives me a lot to think about, since we have Thed lurking in our game as well. Julie's character, Alaerin, is a Sylilan who grew up outside of the glowline, perilously close to Dorastor. When Alaerin was a small girl, around 6 or so, her mother was raped by a broo and eventually died during childbirth as the broo ate its way out. So, now Alaerin has a strong ability of Hates Chaos. And Julie made an offhand comment before we actually began play about "Alaerin has a Broo sibling out there somewhere." Woah.

Another thing to consider: Alaerin is a practitioner of the Five Spirit Moons practice & wants to eventually become a Jakaleel witch.

So, thanks for the article, Ron. I'll definitely be thinking about this stuff when prepping for play (although I don't think Alaerin's past will necessarily be coming into play in the very near future--but down the line...).


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 16, 2003, 08:50:27 AM
Not in the near future!?

Maybe it's my all-things-Thed bias, but goodness gracious, talk about great stuff to throw into play right away!

What if the sibling is now a broo warrior in Ralzakark's army, which has just allied with the Lunars? Or what if the sibling is a broo shaman who can secretly help with the character's Jakaleel-based ambitions? Or ...?

Julie's asking for any and all of this stuff, in my view. Why wait?

Thanks for the kind words about the article. I'd love to receive more feedback and ideas for anyone about it.

Best,
Ron


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: Mac Logo on October 16, 2003, 08:54:53 AM
Oh man!

Just think how it would truly mess up an Heortling.

"Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your mother..."
"He told me broo killed her!"
"True, I am your brother!"

Chaos and Kinslaying in one tidy package.

A fantastic article, Ron.  One that oozes mythic potential

Graeme


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: joshua neff on October 16, 2003, 08:59:48 AM
Actually, Julie hasn't asked for all of that. Not loudly, anyway. There's other stuff on her agenda for Alaerin.

But believe you me, I was already thinking of fun ways to throw this stuff in. And then your article popped up. My brain is working overtime now.


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 16, 2003, 09:20:06 AM
Hiya,

In Ron-think, by having all that mess in the character's background and especially making that oh, so off-hand comment, Julie is loudly and firmly proclaiming her desire for all that kinda stuff in the game, ASAP.

But that's just me-think. Rather than give away any plans you have in mind, we should probably stop the chit-chat and see what happens in play.

Anyone else have any interesting notions or reactions to my article, or thoughts of your own about Thed and so forth?

Best,
Ron


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 16, 2003, 12:25:16 PM
Hmmm. Only 50 hours until we play. That's not a lot of time to figure out how to get Josh back to thinking about how to include more magic and arcana like I've been bugging him to do for the last week. Thanks a lot Ron. I write a couple thousand words on what I'd like to see in the game, and you come along with an article just in time to sabotage me!

I'm backstabing any Broo that arrives on the scene!

;-)

Do me a favor, and convince him that character Self Knowldge via their source of magic is a compelling and interesting source of story in Glorantha. I'm trying to specialize in Selfrock Teaching, see....

Mike


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: AnyaTheBlue on October 16, 2003, 01:22:52 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards

Anyone else have any interesting notions or reactions to my article, or thoughts of your own about Thed and so forth?


Wow.

Just....wow.

I'm not sure Greg Stafford intended that to be in there, but I'm quite sure it is there, just as you've analyzed.  I've actually known a few rape survivors, and dealing with this in-game is a pretty serious Social Contract issue.  But I suspect most people know that...


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: ethan_greer on October 16, 2003, 02:39:18 PM
Yeah, that's an interesting point.  While it's true that interpretations and authorial intent are two separate things, I'd be curious to know Greg's reaction to the article.

My reaction to the article, incidently, goes along the lines of, "Damn." Excellent, thought-provoking read, Ron.  Thanks.


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: AnyaTheBlue on October 16, 2003, 03:30:12 PM
(I agree, Ethan.  I'd really like to hear what Greg's response is...)

Ron,

After some thought, here's a more sustantive reaction.

One of the things that simultaneously maddens and fascinates me about Glorantha is the purposeful obfuscation.  Glorantha, from a purely 'SubCreation' context (in the sense of Tolkien's On Fairy Stories), clearly has a certain number of principles that it follows in describing or explaining any phenomenon.  Every piece of text about Glorantha is in character text, with a particular set of biases and cultural views built in.  Even the seemingly object stuff, like Campbellian monomyth analysis, is pretty explicitly a God Learner-ism.

At the same time, it uses familiar tropes and patterns, and very consciously repeats itself, but never exactly.  So the same things keep happening, but they happen slightly differently, to slightly different people, in slightly different ways, over and over again.

And then there's the details of how the Outer Worlds and the Inner World interact.

I'm torn.  It's obvious that this approach gives Glorantha a realistic texture completely lacking in most (all?) other RPG settings.  It also supports and encourages 'Found Meaning'.  That is, a reader is able to tease actual true meaning out of the background material that the various authors did not explicitely put there -- that's what I meant by saying that Greg Stafford may not have intended what you've seen, but what you've seen is clearly true about Glorantha, in the Orlanthi All sense of True.

At the same time, I get the very strong impression that there really is an Objective Reality behind certain sequences in Gloranthan myth and history, even though Greg really seems to deny this.  The fact that the God Learner secret is known to be a 'real' thing in Glorantha and here in the real world, and that Greg and Sandy know what it is, but nobody in Glorantha knows it, and it doesn't work anymore, really feeds this suspicion in me.  There are True Things about Glorantha that we don't know.

It all gives Glorantha a realism and depth that are truly staggering.  But it's still frustrating.  These details about Thed may be one of those Objectively Real things that some people have always known, and most of us haven't figured out.  Or, it might be something that has arisen without conscious intent on the part of any one person, or any group of people, even though it's clearly really there.  On some level it's a question of Authorial Intent, kind of like the Mystery of Elwin Drood (I think I spelled that right).  We can't know who did it because the author died before finishing it.  We could know these details about Glorantha if someone who knows them would just come out and tell us.  Most likely, we won't ever find them out.

Obviously, as a Creator, Greg has this right.  It's still maddening, and clearly the amount of skull-sweat that people (myself and others) have spent trying to work out a cohesive Ur-structure to what's going on historically and mythically, I'm not the only one who is bugged by this.  Troll the Glorantha Mailing List and you'll see an awful lot of 'Sobjectivism' debates.

So, how does this all relate to Ron's Thed essay?  This is probably the clearest explication of a Gloranthan Event from the God Time that has ever made complete and utter sense to me, and clearly not been written from a Gloranthan-Native point of view.  Thank You.  I knew it was in there somewhere.  It's very satisfying to have read part of it, even if there's lots more still lying under the surface.  You'll note that even though we now 'know' this, Glorantha hasn't collapsed.  Actual truth is fun, too, y'know?

Now, if I could just trouble you to look at these several hundred pages of questions... =)


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: RaconteurX on October 16, 2003, 06:00:51 PM
Actually, broo-birth is entirely unnatural... it is more a parasitic infestation than a pregnancy, as broo can theoretically impregnate anything. If it had attacked Alaerin's father, her pet alynx, or the hearthstone at the stead where she grew up, a broo-birth would be the result. No Heortling would recognize relations to a broo birthed of kin, else all broo would all be kin.

Recall that Ragnaglar, the progenitor of the broos, was Orlanth's brother ere joining the Unholy Trio with Thed and Mallia to sire Wakboth the Devil. Your Glorantha will vary, of course. Now if Alaerin had a kinsman who raped her mother and thereby devolved into a broo due to the evil deed, that's another story... :)

Look to Shadows on the Borderland, one of the Avalon Hill RuneQuest scenario supplements, for examples of how moral evil can warp the body as well as the mind. Dorastor and Lords of Terror are also good sources. It's every bit as nasty as any Cthulhoid horror can inflict.


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: RaconteurX on October 16, 2003, 06:12:36 PM
Where is this article of Ron's to be found, by the way? No web search turned it up.


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: AnyaTheBlue on October 16, 2003, 06:22:59 PM
1.  Go here: http://www.chimera.info/daedalus/
2.  Click on Redeeming Thed, goddess of rape by Ron Edwards
3.  Enjoy!


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 16, 2003, 08:50:35 PM
Hi there,

Dana, I know what you mean about the Trueness issue, but I urge you to put aside Greg & Sandy as the place to go for it. This is Hero Quest 2003, not RuneQuest 1985 - you and your group are the people who provide what you're looking for. In an absolutely literal fashion, that's what the Hero Band in your particular group does.

Michael, I think you're claiming a bit too much interpretation of the broo concept to be the "way to play." No Heortling would recognize the birth? You've provided what some priest will tell the character, which is fine ... but that's all it is. As I see it, anyway, the character who decides, for himself, that the child of his kin is his kin, is a viable and desirable premise for a Hero Quest character. We're not talking about what the Heortling people think or what the clan thinks - we're talking about what he thinks, and whether that claim is going to be the basis of a new Hero Cult or not.

I don't quite see what you're saying about Ragnaglar. Are you saying that his divine influence is what gives the broo their astonishing fertility? If so, I'm not sure how that's relevant. Can you clarify?

I submit that my points and interpretation about Thed have nothing to do, at all, with my Glorantha varying, except in terms of the outcome of the group's heroquests and their effects on the setting.

Best,
Ron


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: joshua neff on October 16, 2003, 09:13:54 PM
I don't want to get this thread sidetracked with this, but...Michael: let me add to what Ron said by saying I'm neither finacially able nor intellectually interested in buying every Glorantha supplement or researching every bit of canonical Glorantha stuff. As far as I'm concerned, the main HeroQuest book is everything one needs to play in Glorantha. If it's not in the book, it's up for grabs. As always, Your Glorantha Will Vary.

So, if Julie says Alaerin's mom was raped, & it's significant that it was her mom & not her father, or the family dog, or the tree in the front yard, then the fact that broo can impregnate anything is not relevant to the game, & as far as I'm concerned is only possibly true. (Maybe humans think broo can impregnate anything, but they're wrong.) And if Julie says Alaerin has a broo half-brother running around somewhere, & if said broo ever showed up in the game & Alaerin acknowledged it as a half-sibling--well, then, that's what Glorantha is like.


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: Mac Logo on October 16, 2003, 11:47:01 PM
Broo birth may be unnatural (OK is unnatural and extremely icky), but it has been a feature of broos that they resemble the non-broo parent in many ways. How many is up to the narrator.

Most broos are born from animals and they look like animals. Smart animals, but animals. One born from a human will have human traits - it seems entirely reasonable to me that some of those would be recognisable family traits. Perhaps even the traits necessary for heroism.

I don't want to preempt anyone, but there are beings in Dorastor who would plan broo raids in order to generate superior quality broos for special missions.

Coming face to face with a broo that looks like a member of your family will certainly put a bit of a strain on the "We are all Us" of a Lunar character with a Hate Chaos trait.

OTOH if character wants to be a Jakaleeli, insanity from the mental fallout is a clearly bonus.

I'd say that Alaerin's player has staked a claim for her character's dramatic arc. Woah, indeed.

Graeme


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: RaconteurX on October 17, 2003, 03:39:49 AM
I find Ron's comments thus far as much "a bit too much interpretation" as he has found mine. I can only presume he knows Julie well enough to declare an off-hand statement of hers to be "loudly and firmly proclaiming her desire for all that kinda stuff". I personally would ask even a player I knew well if that was the case, especially when the story fodder involves something which delves deep into the darker side of the psyche. An off-hand remark by a player at the start of a campaign is hardly a definitive statement of a desired story direction.

My previously stated position is that a broo would not be recognized as kin from the perspective of those within Heortling culture. An "Orlanthi all" applies here, as in all things Heortling, and I presumed there was no need to state such. For the overwhelming majority, it would be a source of shame much like that of Orlanth's at the deed of his brother Ragnaglar. Again, the overwhelming majority of people tend to react to such things through denial. To legitimize Chaos is to destroy the world, in the Orlanthi worldview, as the sole purpose of Chaos in the world is to end it.

Julie made an observation as a player. That comment was not necessarily from her hero's perspective. I imagine Alaerin, and the overwhelming majority of Heortlings, would recoil in horror at the notion that some thing was kin. Since kinship is everything in Orlanthi society, this can only represent the dissolution of the sacred order as defined by tradition. The old world is definitely over, if this is true, unless Alaerin can redeem her "sibling" through a new truth... or condemn it by reaffirming the old ones.

Perhaps Joshua will enlighten us further as to whether he discussed this with Julie, asked her if she wanted this collision to become an inevitable part of Alaerin's tale, or whether it was an observation made regarding a particularly creepy and unsettling revelation of a personal nature. One does not need "every Glorantha supplement" or "every bit of canonical Glorantha stuff". Everything I've expounded upon here can be found in Thunder Rebels, Anaxial's Roster or the Creatures section of the HeroQuest rulebook (where, in the very first sentence of the Broo entry, it says "All right-thinking beings hate broo.").

My message to Joshua is this: Ron's viewpoint is fine, but don't feel any more constrained by it than you are by canonical Glorantha. I just think that what Julie wants is far more important overall than your or Ron's desire to make her comment into a big thing, and what she may vaguely entertain now might not be what she wants down the road. I'd take a very different tack if Julie had written this into Alaerin's narrative but, from what you've written, she did not and I would tread lightly before making any assumptions.


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: RaconteurX on October 17, 2003, 04:03:14 AM
Thanks to Dana for the link to Ron's article, and to Daedalus in general.

Ron, the article was exceptional and very much in the Hero Wars spirit. I'd like to know what the heroes' efforts meant to community and culture. I see it as fairly undermining them, even if it was (from a modern, Judeo-Christian perspective) the morally correct thing to do. Orlanthi morality is not our morality. No, not undermining so much as changing it radically. A community without fear of rape, because for them Thed accepted justice and Orlanth made true restitution.

I've always held the notion that Thed's evil was in choosing to perpetuate Ragnaglar's evil rather than accepting justice. Orlanthi justice is intended to keep the peace through restitution, but there could be no true peace when the fear of rape existed and thus was justice, and hence the sacred order, made a mockery. Thed knew the nature of Orlanthi justice and horribly twisted it to intentionally cause harm and fear of harm in people who had done her no wrong.

I liken this to the perversions of justice which we as modern Americans see in our judicial system every day... like the O.J. Simpson trial... or which we can read about in our history. Was Thed a victim? Undoubtedly. Did she desire to see others similarly victimized, when she could have decided otherwise? Also undoubtedly. Moral evil in Glorantha is always embodied, always personal.

This is the tragic legacy of Thed. I can think of no Gloranthan myth which is more sad, more pointless than hers. Again, well done. And, as Dana said, wow.


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: Valamir on October 17, 2003, 04:48:52 AM
Hey Michael.  I think several of your recent posts have begun to mistake the beliefs of some for the beliefs of all.  You speak of what an "Orlanthi" would believe as if there is some hive mind pulling the string.  While I acknowledge the existance of cultural norms, such norms are hardly all inclusive.  An example of where I think you're throwing too wide a net  is

Quote
modern Americans see in our judicial system every day... like the O.J. Simpson trial
 The believe that all modern Americans see twisted justice every day, or that all modern Americans view the Simpson trial as an example of same is the exact same error in judgement you're making with regards to the Orlanthi text.  I for one think the Simpson trial (aside from the media circus) to be a great victory for justice and the subsequent civil trial to be the travesty.  

Similiarly the Orlanthi are free thinking people who may have certain cultureal "standards", but one should never mistake cultureal stereotypes (no matter how wide ranging) to be 100% applicable to all members of the society.  Even a statement like "All right-thinking people hate broo" can only be interpreted from the biased perspective of the Gloranthan individual who utters the phrase.  I might say "All right-thinking people think Howard Dean is a colossal moron" but that doesn't make it true.


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: joshua neff on October 17, 2003, 04:49:23 AM
Michael--

1) I agree that Ron was, in his own I-love-Glorantha way, being presumptuous about Julie's wants. (Glorantha seems to bring that out in people.) He & I have talked about this somewhat in PMs, mostly because it involved gamestuff that I don't necessarily want to talk about "in front of" my Players. (Although Julie, being my girlfriend, tends to hear a lot of it anyway.)

2) Julie knows very little about Glorantha, so any character stuff she's come up with has involved some prompting on my part (which she wants--she likes to have her characters fit into the setting as it is) & her own invention. So, a lot of the "subtleties" of broos & Chaos weren't involved in the decision to have various things in Alaerin's background. It was more of a "ooh, this sounds cool--let's do that!"

3) This is very, very minor, but I just wanted ii straightened out: Alaerin's not Orlanthi, nor a Heortling, & I'm not sure when in the discussion that got mistakenly established. She's a Sylilan who grew up outside of the Glowline & ended up becoming an animist (rather than the traditional Sylilan Moon Bear theist).

4) I did ask Julie if she wanted this to be a part of her character's arc--yesterday, when this all came up. Her answer was, "Oh, yeah, sure--but not right away. I want to get my feet wet in the game first. Let's deal with smaller story stuff before we hit the really intense stuff." Which was my desire as well.

5) I'm don't feel constrained by Ron's article any more than I am by any other Glorantha stuff. It's all just fodder for my brain & for my Players' interpretations. Even the stuff in the rulebook is only "official" as much as it jibes with what my group wants. And I'm very much of the opinion that when the rulebook says "All right-thinking people hate broos," it refers to NPCs, not PCs. PCs are beyond canonical statements. In fact, it's the role of the PCs to make big statements on that kind of thing--"All right-thinking people hate broos? Not me! I think they're misunderstood, & let me explain to you why..."

6) At any rate--back to Ron's article & the more general discussion of rape in Glorantha...


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 17, 2003, 08:27:39 AM
Hi there,

For the record, Josh and Julie both know me personally, not just on-line, although we don't live in the same cities. They're both able to handle a little hard-line dialogue without feeling pressured or lectured.

Michael, thanks for the kind words about the article. Let's do it!

I'll start by saying that I think Orlanth neither offered nor provided justice to Thed. I think that he committed a colossal crime in this part of the myth and demonstrated the "price" of presuming to kill Yelm. That price is ultimately expressed in the end of Godtime and, in the days to come in terms of playing during the Hero Wars, the end of Glorantha.

Quote
I'd like to know what the heroes' efforts meant to community and culture. I see it as fairly undermining them, even if it was (from a modern, Judeo-Christian perspective) the morally correct thing to do. Orlanthi morality is not our morality. No, not undermining so much as changing it radically. A community without fear of rape, because for them Thed accepted justice and Orlanth made true restitution.


Well, I took it even farther, partly because as I touched on in the article, the heroes actually enlisted very significant and widespread communities across Dragon Pass in the quest, literally hijacking some existing quests that were far beyond their own ability to initiate. I didn't even mention the Lunar sorcerer who'd brought in a young woman to be She Who Waits in the womens' ceremony, planning to hijack it as well ... and the heroes allied with him in doing so, for their own purposes. Nor did I mention the troll community they'd recently befriended, which included some great Underworld aspects to the Kolati shaman's difficult attempt to make it to Orlanth's Hall to meet there with his friends.

So it wasn't just their own community that was affected. This was the end of our 35+ session* Hero [Wars, at the time]** game. I was going for the brass ring, and thinking that we were seeing one of the great and powerful events of the 1620s that represented no turning back for the whole world.

Basically, we're talking about Argrath. I'd avoided much attention or mention of him in the game, partly because the locales hadn't lent themselves to it and partly because I liked the shadowy who-is-he element of the character in the setting. Some mysteries are more fun as such, rather than as answers. But here, in the last moments of play, I brought him in.

But perhaps I should clarify a few other things.

1. The characters' Hero Band was based on the hero Gram, whose Secret concerned the existing crimes of incest and rape within Orlanthi culture and whose rune/affinity concerned Direction when Orlanthi values failed. Most of their adventures concerned people struggling with broken-down and inapplicable values during changing times, in regard to kinstrife, rape, and incest.

2. The three player-characters (which by this point in play encompassed a veritable mob of Followers and Relationships) were absolutely savaged during this heroquest. They had to "bet" their very selves in order even to get to the Hall itself, and once there, they lost affinities and abilities all over the place - the Yinkinite was stripped of nearly all of her assets, as the quest's whole purpose was counter to Yinkin's staunch loyalty to Orlanth; and the Andrin-based Lawspeaker (who'd practially become a total heretic by hobnobbing with the Seven Mothers and marrying a Selven Hara practitioner!) did not, I think, even survive. The Kolati shaman relied on his troll friends and the Lunar sorcerer to keep from becoming so much puffed-away wind, and again, I am not sure whether the character even lived.

By the climax of the quest, the characters were relying primarily on Relationships and some funky Affinities they'd picked up on previous heroquests, all of which were relevant to previous myths and legends that were extensions of Orlanth's judgment in this scene.

3. We didn't end by going back to the real world. Of the characters, I think only the ex-Yinkinite would have made it, and what she would have made of her life, I'm not sure. Julie (not the same Julie as above; I'm now talking of "jrs" here at the Forge) was inclined to retire her to the hills, probably as a silent and reclusive hermit. The final events occurred in the Other World.

So, how did it end? In terms of plot and theme, they stood beside Thed as her kin and pled her case. In terms of rolls, they of course did not convince Orlanth or change the events of Godtime. That would be a heroquest comparable to Sedenya's ascension to godhood, and was far beyond them (although they tried). But they did achieve some pretty cool things, one of which was, once rejected by the past, to look to (which is to say, to affect) the future.

I stated that Argrath, lost in the Other World himself, came upon Aething, the NPC leader of the Hero Band. She was lost to reality, you see; the Godtime could not tolerate her existence because it could not provide justice to the children of the damned. All she was, now, was the Direction Affinity given voice and intent (you'll note the positive parallel to Wakboth, I hope). And she meets Argrath in the not-space and not-time that separates the myths of the Other World, and he asks her, "I need to find my way." Her answer was not role-played, and we let every member of the group provide it personally, to himself or herself.

Best,
Ron

* I already practice fast-paced play, using techniques developed in playing Champions and later, applied as rules for Sorcerer. Armed with these concepts and the amazing Hero [Wars] rules, one of our sessions was equivalent to perhaps three-to-five sessions of traditional RPG-fantasy play. I consider this single game of ours to have encompassed and created more "story" than some groups I know could create in their members' entire lives using AD&D2 or non-Drifted RuneQuest.

** Actually, it was Hero Wars heavily modified by pre-publication Hero Quest material, plus some manuscript material about Kolati that I think has yet to be published.


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: RaconteurX on October 17, 2003, 02:06:40 PM
So the heroes didn't ultimately change their culture, just their place in it. Wow, very tragic in many ways. It would have been very cool had they convinced Orlanth of his grave error... reminds me of the "Chalana Arroy Heals the Scars" heroquest from King of Dragon Pass (http://www.a-sharp.com/kodp), where the White Lady heals Orlanth's wounded judgment.

The Hero Wars are about this kind of thing, just as was the Great Darkness. Adapt or die. Change is inevitable, growth is optional. Heroes have the potential via heroquest to drag their people, for good or for ill, kicking and screaming into a new age. Whether that age will be golden or dark, only time can tell. Very cool that you had the time to tell such a tale in its fullness.


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 17, 2003, 05:05:08 PM
Hi Michael,

H'm, that's an interesting interpretation. From my perspective, the heroes did more than affecting their own culture, rather than less. In our Glorantha (and yes, this is definitely a "variance," although in terms of outcomes rather than changing canon), without our heroes in that game, there would have been no Argrath. So perhaps they didn't change their culture right then and there, but they did indirectly change the world - forever.

I consider their actions during the heroquest (in our Glorantha, as I say) to be the equivalent of Rashoran's presence and influence just before the Greater Darkness in the Godtime. They even got to meet Rashoran at one point during a 'quest, which was a special moment for me because that character/entity has been a favorite of mine ever since I read about him in Lords of Terror 22 years ago (20 years prior to the game I'm talking about).

I also thought, if you hadn't seen it before, you might enjoy this old thread from about two-thirds of the way through our tenure with the game: God damn it, I love Glorantha (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=180). It's kind of incoherent, but conveys some of the extravagant creative joy we were experiencing at the time.

Best,
Ron


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: RaconteurX on October 17, 2003, 09:03:43 PM
Quote from: joshua neff
Alaerin's not Orlanthi, nor a Heortling... She's a Sylilan...


The Imperial Lunar Handbook mentions, in the first sentence of the Sylilan homeland section, that Sylilans were originally an Orlanthi people (though Alakoring in nature, a Post-Dragonkill innovation upon Heortling culture). Portions still cling to their "often half-remembered Orlanthi ways" at least in terms of their biases, I imagine, especially those living close to Dorastor. As Alaerin has a Hate Chaos personality trait, I thought it likely that she shared that ancient bias (though I did not inquire as to its strength. Did Julie take it at 13? 17? Higher? I'd be curious to know).

Quote
Her answer was, "Oh, yeah, sure--but not right away. I want to get my feet wet in the game first. Let's deal with smaller story stuff before we hit the really intense stuff."


Good to positively get it settled, as it allows both of you to plan for that inevitability. I don't pity her the severe ickiness ahead. :)

Quote
PCs are beyond canonical statements. In fact, it's the role of the PCs to make big statements on that kind of thing...


I do not see the heroes as exceptions to their culture norms, personally, just exceptional specimens thereof. For me, the pleasure is in portraying a member of another culture authentically, not just setting the veneer of that culture over my early 21st Century cultural biases. I know that few other roleplayers share that pleasure, in my experience. While I enjoying telling a good story as much as anyone else, I also believe that the color of an authentic portrayal vastly enhances the story. My experiences bear this out, at least if I am to take the compliments of my fellow players at face value. Perhaps that is not your experience. Your Glorantha will vary.

And thank you for sharing your thoughts here, I have greatly enjoyed the discussion. And apologies to Ralph for being more than a bit snappish in a private message regarding this thread.


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: joshua neff on October 18, 2003, 03:25:39 AM
Hey, Michael--

Yeah, I know the Sylilan background. And Julie's really playing up the trouser-wearing-barbarian who is also a Lunar. One of the many things I like about the Lunar Empire is the multiculturalism within the Empire & all of the contradictions within that. Oh, & her Hates Chaos is 17. Not as high as her "tragic flaw", Stubborn 2w. (I asked each of the Players to give their heroes a "tragic flaw.")

As for the "cultural norms" thing...somewhere on the Forge is a thread or two (or three) that talks about the differences between Simulationist cultural play & Narrativist cultural play. In Simulationist play, cultural norms are there to be explored, while in Narrativist play they're there to be broken, & from that comes premise-exploration. My own preferences are for the Narrativist way, & personally I think that's where HeroQuest shines (well, one way it shines--it shines in a whole lot of ways). The Hero Wars are beginning, the old ways are crumbling, & cultural norms are proving to be not as useful as everyone had thought. I don't see the cultural norms as something to be adhered to but something to be examined & questioned. I definitely see the heroes as exceptions to the norm, in many, many ways. In fact, I sort of see that as a big part of "playing through the Hero Wars."

And I'm enjoying this thread, too. I haven't noticed you being snippy within the thread, & if I've sounded snippy, it wasn't intentional. It's all good.


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 20, 2003, 11:41:05 AM
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while in Narrativist play they're there to be broken, & from that comes premise-exploration.


Questioned, not neccessarily broken, yes.

That is, to assume that the norms would be broken would be just as Sim as if they were to be upheld. What it needs to be, is an open question. Do you do what your elders tell ya? Or do you forge a new reality? That's the difference in play. Narrativism allows breaking the mold in that this acknowledges and recognizes and respects the setting.

Mike, both of these methods allow for you to carefully and respectfully explore the setting. In the one case, what you do says, "The setting is cool, I'm going to play an exemplar of this facet to show what it's like." In Josh's case, what he does is to say, "The setting is cool, I'm going to emphasize a particular factet of it by having my character be an exception to the norm, with all that entails."

Either decision is valid. Yes, we all agree here, that if you're just placing your own personal preferences on the character, and ignoring the fact that it's a Praxian, you've lost out on what makes the setting so neat. But that doesn't change the fact that because it says that Orlanthi are a bull-headed people that this doesn't mean that they're all that way to a man. That just wouldn't be plausible. So, as long as making your character an exeption to the norm is done in order to examine that difference, paying attention to the fact that it might make the character a rarity and potentially outcast, etc, rather than to gloss it over, then you've done your due dilligence (and more) vis a vis the setting.

It's not ignoring the setting, it's paying attention to it dynamically.

Mike


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: joshua neff on October 20, 2003, 12:58:41 PM
Right, Mike. That's actually what I meant, but chose my words poorly. "Questioned," not necessarily adhered to or broken.


Title: More Please!
Post by: Kao Nashi on October 22, 2003, 05:34:23 AM
First off, this is my first post to The Forge. Have been lurking for a long time and have found the GNS model and the articles and discussions around it to be absolutely mind-blowing. I'd never really thought about what goes on in RPGs!  

Ron, your article on Thed was fascinating and thought-provoking. I'm not sure this is the right place or whether I should start a new thread, but here we go:

1) A key part of your argument is that Thed was given (could only be given?) Wrong Justice by Orlanth and his cronies. Can you please expand on this? Is it because Thed was not kin? If she wasn't kin, did she have any rights to justice? If she was kin, how could any of the gods - for example Ernalda in her Gorgorma aspect - ignore what happened to Thed? Couldn't Orlanth have outlawed Ragnaglar and then have a hunting party accidentally on purpose run into him? I ask all this stuff because Orlanthi kin- and clan-think does not come naturally to me. I have trouble understanding how any culture can defend rape - although clearly it is one of those nasty undercurrents in many cultures. You say that Orlanthi culture falls flat on its face on issues like this, and that is fascinating, but I do not fully understand.

2) Would Thed have wanted/accepted any different form of justice than revenge on the whole world? Or was her "You think this is bad? I'll show you bad!!" response always going to be there anyway?

3) Can you spell out in more detail how your players dealt with this? When they went to Orlanth's hall, what did they ask for? How did they draw on the relationships they had built to help them? How did they convince the cultists trying to prove that Yelm or Orlanth was Ernalda's husband that rape was a relevant issue for them. Wouldn't they get "Go away; that was something Ragnaglar did." As a response?

4) What exactly did your players change? You mention a sense of direction, but how did your players change the myths?

5) Did you consider giving them the power to change things even more fundamental? Why or why not?

Terrific article, and your posts here on the subject have been fascinating as well. However, I think you were forced to leave out detail, which would be very illuminating to me. Thanks!


Title: rape in glorantha
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 22, 2003, 07:08:39 AM
Hi Kao Nashi,

Welcome to the Forge (posting)! I'll take the questions by number and by parts, although typically I'll answer in a more essay-style way. Please let me know if I'm parsing too closely and therefore missing the real point of any questions.

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1) A key part of your argument is that Thed was given (could only be given?) Wrong Justice by Orlanth and his cronies. Can you please expand on this? Is it because Thed was not kin?


Thed's kinship to Orlanth or to anyone else didn't seem like the issue. I'll clarify that in answering #2.

Where kin comes into the picture is that Ragnaglar was brother to Orlanth, and as such, Orlanth was "shamed" when he found he had to deliver justice of any kind to a brother.

That's one major Wrong, right there. Orlanth considered justice applied to close kin to be shameful. Orlanthi culture (especially Storm Age values) says, "My brother over my cousin, my cousin over my clan, my clan over my village, my village over my people-at-large."

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If she wasn't kin, did she have any rights to justice?


Yes. Orlanth had killed Yelm and set up as the King of Gods and All Else. He was now Where the Buck Stops, for anything. In my view, he was hopelessly inadequate for the job.

About kin and justice-rights, you kind of have it a little backwards, maybe. For Orlanth, justice is for non-kin, and it largely consists of ruling whether so-and-so pays 100 cows for killing so-and-so's brother, or 200 cows. Kin don't get "justice" - they are exempt, and to be protected from others by whatever means necessary.

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I ask all this stuff because Orlanthi kin- and clan-think does not come naturally to me. I have trouble understanding how any culture can defend rape - although clearly it is one of those nasty undercurrents in many cultures. You say that Orlanthi culture falls flat on its face on issues like this, and that is fascinating, but I do not fully understand.


I definitely hear you. This is a big deal, and remains a major feature of human culture, literature, and mythology.

For all that we, as modern humans, speak of "personal freedom," we are actually far more societally-bound than many historical humans, in terms of law and values. We are freer in terms of economic acquisition, social status, and choosing mates, but not in the sense of visiting our personal influence on others through force. This does not mean that those historical humans were enlightened democratic "free peoples" with rights - far from it. It means that they were "free" to kill people they didn't like, or who had harmed their kin. Of course, the survivors were "free" to do so in return.

Orlanthi culture has many literary sources, but the huge one for me is Njal's Saga - not only a great early "novel," but also a clear illumination of how a society cannot function when everyone has the acknowledged privilege of killing those who he feels has harmed him. I also suggest reading the Orestiad, a trilogy of plays by Aeschylus, in which the cycle of atrocity-revenge-atrocity must be broken, because it cannot stop of itself. These are my two major inflences in the game I described.

Like it or not, rape is often tolerated in human cultures, both historical and modern. It's usually a matter of protecting power structures and kin-relationships. I'm not really qualified to enter into a discourse on the matter in legal or political terms. In behavior/biology terms (in which I'm indeed qualified to comment), the matter is controversial but well-studied, and the picture isn't very pretty. We can expect societal censure of forcible and semi-random rape, in most or all human societies; we can also expect that perpetrators will often find "cover" if they are connected by kin or power-structure to those who will help them.

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2) Would Thed have wanted/accepted any different form of justice than revenge on the whole world? Or was her "You think this is bad? I'll show you bad!!" response always going to be there anyway?


Wow, that's a great question. I'm tempted to quote Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia and say, "No one is ever told what would have happened," but instead, I'll muse ...

... I think, at this late date (we finished the game in question a couple of years ago), that post-rape Thed was characterized by shock, horror, and isolation. What does a person in such a situation want? Any kind of help at all. Not, emphatically, "take care of it yourself."

More speculatively, and this represents my own hopes and ideals rather than an analysis of a shadowy fictional character, I think she would have accepted community-justice at a social/cognitive level far more complex than Orlanthi culture was capable of. That kind of justice would establish (a) law that applied to anyone, regardless of kinship; and (b) law specifically regarding rape, that it is not tolerable on the same order as murder (or, to an Orlanthi, kin-murder).

I should specify as well that we are talking about the Storm Age during Godtime. Orlanthi culture in Glorantha, in real-time, is far more complex and most especially includes Andrin the Lawspeaker, who introduced the concepts of records, precedents, and legal representation. But none of this applied for Thed.

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3) Can you spell out in more detail how your players dealt with this? When they went to Orlanth's hall, what did they ask for? How did they draw on the relationships they had built to help them? How did they convince the cultists trying to prove that Yelm or Orlanth was Ernalda's husband that rape was a relevant issue for them. Wouldn't they get "Go away; that was something Ragnaglar did." As a response?


Wow ... it's hard to summarize eight or nine sessions of Hero[Quest] play, especially when it rockets along like ours did ... Let's see.

a) When they went to Orlanth's Hall, they did so by accompanying Thed and helping her walk. They stood with her as she asked for justice. I'm not sure whether this came earlier or later, but they named themselves her kin. In our game, this was actually the case - the clan had broo-kin (in precisely the "no they're not" sense that Michael Schwartz rightly cites as the typical Orlanthi interpretation) going all the way back to its origins.

b & c) The relationships they drew on were extensive and in many cases terrifyingly relevant. But my answer has to be mixed up with the answer to your next question. Let's hope this is coherent.

You're right that the two extremist groups who wanted to co-opt the Kistralde myth were not interested in all this stuff at all.

Earlier in the heroquest, when they confronted the Yelornans and Vingans, the 'quest occurred simultaneously with a three-cornered battle in the real world. This is important! Rather than sit and meditate, the heroes were actually fighting, and the events of the real-world fight and the stations of the heroquest were often linked. So how did they "convince" these two groups? To some extent by understanding the myths better (heroforming Kistralde's daughters, specifically), and to some extent through force of arms, as they enlisted their troll buddies to help them against the two foes.

When they crashed the womens' huge heroquest, they enlisted Kyger Litor and their more metaphysical troll allies primarily. "If we're talking about mothers, then here I am," is pretty much the message. No one can defy Kyger Litor in her element. In reality, they had a fierce troll war-band backing them up; in the Other World, they not only had serious Kyger Litor Underworld help, but also the rules-breaking help of an accomplished Lunar sorcerer. (And he was legitimately utilizing an Ernaldan secret as well, as "She Who Waits" in the Seven Mothers is indeed Ernalda.) They successfully enlisted these womens' help by showing that "who is my husband" is not enough to ask. Answer that, and Thed is waiting.

Finally, at the end of the 'quest, when they were in Orlanth's Hall, they turned directly to several different personages in Ernalda's pantheon. This was far more "core" material ... these are not just fringe hero band or subcult figures; these are Woman: Mother, Wife, Ancestress, Hearth, etc. As I mentioned in the article, the heroes challenged the concepts that being a mother makes you moral, or that being a wife makes you safe from rape. They did so first by bringing in all those hundreds and hundreds of women in dozens of cults who were heroquesting to know who Ernalda's true husband was. Wham - that's a lot of magical influence. They did so second by representing the fallout of rape and its covert acceptance: in the player-characters, that was the heroforms of Kistralde's daughters, and in the NPCs, that was the persons of Aething and Tenslayer.

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4 & 5) What exactly did your players change? You mention a sense of direction, but how did your players change the myths?

Did you consider giving them the power to change things even more fundamental? Why or why not?


As I mentioned to Michael, above, I consider the characters to have challenged an extremely fundamental "linchpin" myth & value system, and as such, too much reality rested upon its continued existence for them to have a chance to change it in the usual heroquest sense. They'd already managed to "change" (or reveal the truth of) their personal clan myth, and used that as the basis for their Hero Band; that had happened long before. Now they were up against ... well, pretty much the whole damn cosmos. And as non-Lunars (although with some Lunar friends), that's not a position of strength.

Your answer to #5 is emphatically YES. That was the solution to the Rock/Force problem they were in. They made it possible for Argrath to return to Glorantha from the Other Side and know what to do.

This is a big deal to the "deep Gloranthaphile," because Argrath is the fellow who unites Dragon Pass against the Lunars, largely by adopting many aspects of the Lunar Way (although no one likes to admit this). Through this, Dragon Pass becomes the Empire's point of destruction; both sides escalate their use and abuse of heroquesting to the point that Wakboth the Devil can return. In the final fight against him, Glorantha is destroyed. This is the Uber-Setting that doesn't concern most role-players in Glorantha, but in this case, I think the characters really forced themselves into this level of Cosmic Event - or more accurately, they had nowhere else to go.

In our Glorantha, this one particular Hero Band is the single and only reason that Argrath was not lost to the vortices and uncertainties of the Other Side before his story really begins. Thematically, it works for me because it matches with the concept that the Old World is Over, and Argrath must bring something new, a Direction that no one grasps or conceives of relative to Chaos in particular, in order to succeed.

Well, I hope any or all of that made sense ... please ask any more questions! I appreciate all of your comments.

Best,
Ron