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Author Topic: Humakt, Rashoran, and justice (split from rape/Glorantha)  (Read 7967 times)
Kao Nashi
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« on: October 22, 2003, 04:55:22 PM »

Great answer, Ron; thanks for taking the time. I hope this is also capturing the interest of others because we have few examples of really fundamental HQs: things that address what the players want the new world to be like. I need to ruminate over your answers before coming back with questions. Great ideas and great campaign!

I've found the issue of justice becoming increasingly important for me in Glorantha. I play one of the Humakti in Guy Jobbins' Swords campaign (see link below for not-quite-up-to-date chronicles), and the Humakti have a different sense of justice than their ex-kin. Easier for modern people to understand and play I think.

I have been puzzling over how Humakt would react to Thed's claim. It is hard to classify rape as the kind of perversion-of-death crime that Humakt takes really personally. On the other hand, as a holder of the truth rune he has opportunities to get involved in conflicts about honor and deception. Rape, especially spousal rape, clearly involves deception, dishonesty, and lack of integrity. It could be described as a falsification of the act of love.

We have found Humakt to be responsive of claims to truth and justice in unexpected ways - most recently to our detriment. We have ended up depriving a group of allied healers from their only source of water because of promises we made earlier, and also because we found ourselves unable to tolerate slavery (river god was enslaved). Interestingly, the idea that the healers will die is not so much of a problem for us ("Welcome to Humakt's bosom!") as the feeling that we haven't fulfilled our obligations to them.

Our Humakti have some very direct ideas about what the world should be like: "The old world is dying. We will cleanse its child of falsehood." Your ideas have been very illuminating and I look forward to putting them in practice in our game.

http://www.smartgroups.com/vault/swords
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2003, 07:14:50 PM »

Hi there,

If you're interested in getting a bit deeper into Gloranthan myth, and if you're playing Humakti, then the guy to check out is Rashoran. The following is paraphrased from Cults of Terror (1981).

During the Lesser Darkness, Rashoran wandered the world counselling various entities not to fear in the face of darkness and chaos. A few of those he spoke with simply gave up and were eaten or destroyed, but a few seemed strengthened. The examples given are Humakt and Uleria.

People may disagree with me about this, but the counsel of Rashoran seems to me to be very Zen-like and transcendent, aimed at removing moral absolutism based on labels but yet preserving it based on ideals, especially highly localized by the place and time.

I don't know much about Uleria (high goddess of love, represented by a major planet or star in the Gloranthan sky), but as far as I can tell, both she and Humakt seem to have become something of meta-gods, represented through dozens of cultures and splintered/adapted into hundreds of aspects without losing their fundamentals. Love and Death are what they are.

Rashoran not only spoke with the Unholy Trio, he was killed by them. So whatever "identity in the face of chaos" he bestowed was gained by them as well. Hence disease, madness, and rape exist without recourse to heroquesting or magicking them away in any easy way.

Sedenya apparently also heroquested Rashoran-myths extensively, and thus one of the faces of Natha is Rashorana. In other words, the Lunar Way seems to have partaken extensively of Rashoran's teachings as well, which doesn't surprise me a bit.

It seems very likely to me that some Humakti can think "out of the box" in ways that followers of more locked-in pantheons tend not to do, especially in terms of cultural blind spots. They've severed themselves from "how it's done" in order to be Humakti in the first place. So justice as an applicable yet not label-bound concept would be kind of a quest or shining ideal for some of them. As opposed to the ones who merely wear black and kill people a lot ... the line between "deliverer of intuitive justice" and "serial killer" being kind of thin, potentially.

What strikes me most (and struck me way back when, in my first reading of Cults of Prax in the late 70s) about Humakt is that he's not an Orlanthi god. He's integrated into the Orlanthi culture and pantheon (as an alternative path), much like he's integrated into dozens of others. Ernalda is similar, especially given a close reading of Glorantha: an introduction to the Hero Wars (2000).

So in my game, Humakt was not a member of Orlanth's Hall. He has his own God-place, which currently is pretty well explained in the book Storm Tribes. Therefore he and his were not present for that particular scene.

They sure as hell showed up in my game, though! One of the daughters of Kistralde was a Humakti, and that meant that heroforming her conferred power that Orlanth could not overwhelm. I also enjoyed a small troop of Humakti that I tied into the assassination of Temertain (stop me if I'm babbling too much Gloranthan canon at once), especially their senior warrior who was blind and relied on using the Truth affinity in order to perceive his surroundings. Interesting, eh? I've been wondering about recasting that concept for a player-character one day.

Best,
Ron
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Kao Nashi
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Posts: 10


« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2003, 07:59:54 PM »

Quote
... the counsel of Rashoran seems to me to be very Zen-like and transcendent, aimed at removing moral absolutism based on labels but yet preserving it based on ideals, especially highly localized by the place and time.


Yep, I'm totally with you on the Rashoran connection. That's why Humakt is so interesting. His is a truth that must constantly be rediscovered. Very different from the way Lhankor Mhy is presented.

Quote
"identity in the face of chaos"


I'd never thought of it exactly that way, but that's spot on for a description of Rashoran's gift. It is, I believe, the only robust answer to the questions of loss, death and evil. E.g., humans can't overcome death, but they can say "I am here, and my dying will re-affirm my identity because I am going to die like myself." The same applies in the face of torture and other horrors.

Quote
As opposed to the ones who merely wear black and kill people a lot ... the line between "deliverer of intuitive justice" and "serial killer" being kind of thin, potentially.


Yes. The connection to truth is really the interesting part; I have found the death rune connection to be pretty stale although I guess you could play a Humakti who went astray and killed indiscriminately (wouldn't last very long I think). It gets interesting when Humakt recognizes his responsibility to keep and wield Death (especially in the face of his failure to do so), and recognizes that ending is also the power to separate. And that things that are split are linked and defined through their very separation ... e.g., life/death, truth/falsehood, etc.

Quote
Ernalda is similar, especially given a close reading of Glorantha: an introduction to the Hero Wars (2000).


Ernalda's mythology is deep and fascinating; I have often been tempted to play one. But I have to admit that it is Humakt who really put the hook in me.

There are a number of Humakti myths (and lots of others) that you might enjoy at Oliver Bernuetz's website:

http://www.geocities.com/bernuetz/mything/mything.html

Thanks for the ideas. I will get back to you with more thoughts and questions. I'm hoping some of my fellow players will also join the discussion here.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2003, 09:34:06 AM »

Hi there,

I decided to split the above posts out from the rape in Glorantha thread, in hopes that a big ol' Humakti discussion ensues.

Best,
Ron
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RaconteurX
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Posts: 262


« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2003, 11:27:59 PM »

Humakt (or as the ducks call him, Hueymakt) has been my favorite Gloranthan deity. He is marvelously complex, encompassing all that is noble and tragic, liberating and absolute about Death. Nowhere was the dichotomy hammered home more thoroughly than in my Hero Wars playtest campaign, where we had two Humakti. Here are their narratives, updated for Thunder Rebels, Storm Tribe and HeroQuest:
    [*]Swordthane and Efrodar godi Heordan Keen-eye's strong arm is ready to aid all who oppose the Lunar oppressors. Living among the Sartar Exiles, he learned shieldwall and cavalry tactics, and the customs and languages of Prax and Heortland. Able to train and lead troops and gather military intelligence, Heordan is renowned as a war leader. His wisdom, persuasiveness and impartiality have allowed him to negotiate many alliances. At home, Heordan leads the worship of Humakt and dispenses justice to his people. He only has two regrets: the loss of Soulcleaver, and his love for Brenna. His geas requires that he abstain from strong drink.

    [*]Kelulf the Strong, a fanatical Makla Mann swordthane of fearsome demeanor, is disliked by his clanfolk for his belligerence and reputation as a killer. Tireless in his efforts to crush the Lunars and their allies, he questions the honor and courage of all those unwilling to rise against them. Possessing great battle luck, Kelulf prides himself on leading and training the clan's young warriors. His quick thinking and ruthlessness have saved his life on several occasions. Kelulf is a member of the Cold Wind movement and answers directly to Sarostip Cold-eye, its leader. Given the opportunity, Kelulf must always deliver a death blow to any fallen opponent.
    [/list:u]
    As can be seen, both are leaders and competent warriors, but they could not be more different in essential nature. Heordan definitely falls into the Death for Life camp, while I can see Kelulf eagerly attempting the Lead Cross heroquest (in which the Humakti quester must slaughter followers of Chalana Arroy) to prove his devotion to Death over Life.
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    Kao Nashi
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    « Reply #5 on: October 23, 2003, 11:58:14 PM »

    Posting bits of a discussion elsewhere which fit here. Sorry about the mess. This is Jane Williams replying to me.

    >... why Vinga didnít speak up for Thed (and this is indeed mystifying)

    Probably because at the time the myth was written, Vinga hadn't been
    invented :( She was out shopping, right?

    > when she went to Orlanth to claim justice for Ragnaglar's abuse, but Iím sure Humakt would have spoken up too. Well, *our* Humakt would have! ;)

    Whose? Yours, Dori's, Aelfs...? I think one thing we're finding is
    that they're different. But all aspects of a greater whole.


    > But I found myself wondering last night about Orlanthi justice (how
    > come rape as crime wasnít dealt with differently) and how Humakt
    > would treat it as a crime/sin.

    I was wondering about that. Would he? And if so, why? What is
    Humakt's idea of justice based on? We know that it isn't kinship: but
    what is it?

    > Is it wrong because it is betrayal (a version of untruth), or what?

    But it isn't betrayal, is it? Unless the victim is in some way
    dependent on the attacker in the first place. It's just forcing your
    will on someone else in a violent way. Which Humakt is all in favour
    of :( Perhaps we need to look at the difference between Humakt and
    (say) Vadrus?

    > I donít think Humakt would recognize what we think of as ďinalienable rightsĒ,

    Probably not.

    > but I also donít believe he would allow or endorse or even tolerate violation either.

    Nor me, but I'm still not sure why. Are we just projecting our
    C20/C21 values on to Humakt?[/quote]
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    newsalor
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    « Reply #6 on: October 24, 2003, 03:48:10 AM »

    I say that the Rashorana connection is 1st age hogwash! :)

    No, really. I think that it has no relevance to your basic Sartarite Humakti. I think that this is Tarumathi influence.
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    Olli Kantola
    Ron Edwards
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    « Reply #7 on: October 24, 2003, 05:34:41 AM »

    Hello,

    Discussions among Glorantha-philes tend to delight in quick references to arcana. Let's try not to do that in this forum, so much, because the goal is to help other people understand and enjoy HeroQuest and Glorantha.

    So, newsalor, please clarify your point about the Tarumathi in a way that someone relatively new to the material can understand.

    My thoughts on your post, perhaps hampered by the post's sketchiness, is that saying "no relevance" is overly general. In our group, and others I know, we consider Dragon Pass, by the 1620s, as a melting pot rather than a fixed set of single values. Heortling followers of the Lunar Way in Boldhome; deserters from the Lunar army setting up as warband leaders for rebels in Heortland. That sort of thing.

    Furthermore, instead of "hard-line Sartarite rebels" being the default protagonists (as was typically the case back in the RQ heyday), a lot of HeroQuest play seems to be about people who are working out personal compromises among things like Chaos, love, death, family, and clan membership.

    So sure, by the Humakti dogma according to the local priest out by Apple Lane, the Rashoran connection is either utterly obscure or total hoo-ha - obviously Lunar propaganda, etc.

    But a character who's seen his assumptions challenged again and again, and who (accurately, to my way of thinking) doesn't really believe that any of the dogmas out there are really getting anywhere good, might discover it. Information about Lunar stuff is readily available in Dragon Pass. He might then latch onto it as a useful and personally meaningful new idea, staying strictly within Humakti myth, no need to become a Lunar or anything like that. And if it works, in practice? Hero band, over here! Sign on up.

    Best,
    Ron
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    Ron Edwards
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    « Reply #8 on: October 24, 2003, 08:38:52 AM »

    Whoops, forgot to mention this too.

    Michael, I don't suppose that your game included a final, deadly confrontation between these two player-characters? "The tragic duel" kind of situation? That's where my little heart goes pit-a-pat, when I see characters like these ...

    Best,
    Ron
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    Jane
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    « Reply #9 on: October 24, 2003, 12:37:43 PM »

    Quote from: Ron Edwards
    Discussions among Glorantha-philes tend to delight in quick references to arcana. Let's try not to do that in this forum, so much, because the goal is to help other people understand and enjoy HeroQuest and Glorantha.

    So, newsalor, please clarify your point about the Tarumathi in a way that someone relatively new to the material can understand.


    I'm not that new  to Glorantha in general, and the reference to the Tarumathi meant nothing to me :( Want to explain?
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    Jane
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    « Reply #10 on: October 24, 2003, 12:40:25 PM »

    Quote from: newsalor
    I say that the Rashorana connection is 1st age hogwash! :)

    No, really. I think that it has no relevance to your basic Sartarite Humakti. I think that this is Tarumathi influence.


    Well, the Humakti I'm trying to run and understand isn't Sartarite, and the sub-cult she's in (yes, we invented it) isn't Sartarite either. In fact, I'm not to sure just where it did start out. But I like the Rashorana connection. So where is it relevant to, in your opinion?
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    Mac Logo
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    « Reply #11 on: October 24, 2003, 03:46:21 PM »

    [quote="Jane
    I'm not that new  to Glorantha in general, and the reference to the Tarumathi meant nothing to me :( Want to explain?[/quote]
    If no-one else is stepping up to (crimsom) bat (sorry).

    Warning: This is all 1st Age Stuff concerning Nysalor/Gbaji/Arkat.

    Tarumath was the replacement for Orlanth put up by Lokomayadon, High Priest of the Storm, in Nysalor's Bright Empire. For a complete generation Orlanth worship failed in the lands under it's rule (not just a few seasons).

    I suppose you could claim Tarumath as the Illuminated Storm. Yeah, right.

    Harmast's Lightbringer Quest was a rebellion against Lokomayadon and Tarumath.

    Good sources for more details are Cults of Terror and King of Dragon Pass

    Hope this helps.

    Graeme
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    Ron Edwards
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    « Reply #12 on: October 24, 2003, 06:51:24 PM »

    Hi there,

    Kao Nashi wrote,

    Quote
    We have found Humakt to be responsive of claims to truth and justice in unexpected ways - most recently to our detriment. ...

    Our Humakti have some very direct ideas about what the world should be like: "The old world is dying. We will cleanse its child of falsehood."


    I suggest that this thread would benefit from learning more about the game and focusing on the issues of justice from that point on. I think my suggestion regarding Rashoran was potentially useful; I haven't seen anything to contradict that.

    As a moderator aside, I'm inclined to perceive newsalor's post as disruptive. It's "Glorantha expert" one-line interference, much like throwing a rock into a discussion to disrupt it. Newsalor, you're welcome to participate, but please make an effort to communicate actual points.

    editing in: Grrr ... and a few minutes thought following posting led me to think I am overreacting. Newsalor, I retract and apologize. All input is welcome.

    Kao Nashi and Jane, do you want to pursue the Rashoran line of discussion? Or do you want to focus on something else?

    Everyone else please wait for Kao Nashi and/or Jane to respond.

    Best,
    Ron
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    Jane
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    « Reply #13 on: October 25, 2003, 02:06:07 AM »

    Quote from: Ron Edwards

    Kao Nashi and Jane, do you want to pursue the Rashoran line of discussion? Or do you want to focus on something else?


    It looks interesting and relevant to me (very brief answer before I head out for the day.) Just the new name threw me.

    Quick link to the sub-cult writeup as we have it so far, so you can see where we're coming from:

    http://www.smartgroups.com/vault/swords/Public/hereward.htm

    Lots of stuff in that area, too.... browse around.
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    nuanarpoq
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    « Reply #14 on: October 25, 2003, 02:08:17 AM »

    hi folks - ron, sorry to crash in. this is guy, i narrate the game that kao and jane are talking about.

    we've not discussed this much in game, and i think this is a fruitful area for development. i have some ideas which i'm leery about disclosing right now, for obvious reasons. let me just say this:

    the pcs are followers of the Herocult of Hereward (an invention of our own), a First Age companion of Arkat. simply, what we know about Hereward is this:

    1. he was a loyal follower of arkat, until arkat started illuminating everyone and turned into a troll
    2. herewardi have poor opinions of the followers of maklamann (who remained loyal to arkat until the end)
    3. herewardi traditionally have low opinions of illumination (and trolls)
    4. following his refusal to follow arkat down the path of illumination, hereward went - well, mad, it appears, for quite a while. i think the text has it that he staggered around weeping blood and raging against the betrayal of his god for a couple of years, or something.

    finally there are 3 key points we mustn't forget (said because i nearly did):

    5. hereward was one of the three warriors who introduced arkat to the cult of humakt
    6. hereward retains his air connection
    7. hereward is obsessed with Truth (rather than justice, which is where this discussion started), which appears to stem from the experiences noted in point 4.

    with this context i think that rashoran is germaine to the discussion, as is the events and propaganda of the 1st age, and the argument that arkat forged humakt from humath.

    hope this isn't too gnomic

    guy
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