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  • #5446
    Profile photo of Adam Fastholm
    Adam Fastholm
    Spectator

    Namaste

    I am relatively new to Glorantha (I was introduced to it just 3 years ago) and find it highly satisfying and interesting to delve into the complex lore of the setting through this excellent community, the old digest as well as the numerous publications. I have a question for you, which relates to one of the most central conflicts of the setting:

    I find the idea that the entire orlanthi culture is locked in some kind of eternal, obsessive conflict with the Lunar Empire and ideology and vice versa very simplistic and not overly interesting. I have gotten the view (through the digest among other sources) that the two cultures (and Gods) are able to coexist and benefit each other as seen in Sylila, Holay, Aggar etc. as these were included into the empire in a more tolerant time (pre-Seleran Wars). As of the 16th and 17th century the Lunar Empire seems much more uncompromising and oppressive in their expansionist policies going as far as desecrating the Hill of Orlanth Victorious and outlawing the worship of Orlanth (I think the idea of the mythic “middle air conflict” between Storm and Moon actually is just a few generations old and created when the the lunar and heortlings began to draw negative associations between their respective gods to reflect the current situation in Dragon Pass)

    Assuming the above is (largely) true I would like to ask
    1) How do a “lunar orlanthi” of Sylila react when he hears the Red Emperor declare celebration of the death of Orlanth after the fall of Whitewall? That the imperial troops, who preach inclusiveness and tolerance suddenly oppresses the worship of a god, who is otherwise known as the great ally of the Red Goddess in his homeland?
    2) Is the Red Goddess and the Orlanth worshipped inside the glowline philosophically able to agree on the nature of Chaos?

    Thanks in advance

    #8009
    Profile photo of Peter Metcalfe
    Peter Metcalfe
    Spectator

    Holay and Aggar weren’t included in a more tolerant time, they were invaded by the Conquering Daughter and many refugees fled to Tarsh. Tarsh was incorporated after the Seleran Wars but the means of its annexation was benign (capture the throne of Tarsh by sneaky but legitimate means and then hit anybody who objects).

    Orlanth has had a problem with the Red Moon from the very beginning. Alakoring and other Orlanthi Heroes fought for the Old Gods at the Battle of Castle Blue. When the Red Moon rose, the Orlanthi of Heortland received headaches.

    Now it is true that the Conquest of Sartar is exceptionally brutal even for a lunar conquest (the Crimson Bat makes an appearance when he would have been helpful in, say, the Seleran Wars). The reason, so I’ve heard second handedly, is that the Lunars are trying to kill Orlanth so he can be Illuminated in the Underworld just as their Goddess was.

    Now to your specific questions.

    1) Orlanth is not the Great Ally of the Red Goddess in Sylila. He is seen as a demon in the cities, a violent rebel who destroyed the Old World and only by being forced to submit to Yelm, was the world able to be made anew. His persistent rebellion is a constant problem that threatens to destroy the world (The Orlanthi were responsible for Arkat and the EWF in historical times and their own myths admit they created the Unholy Trio in mythical times).

    The people of the Sylilan countryside (ie those parts not in Terarir) will have a more favourable opinion of Orlanth but such people are bandits and no civilized person wants to be like them.

    2) The Orlanthi and the Lunars have a fundamental disagreement about Chaos.

    #8011
    Profile photo of Martin Helsdon
    Martin Helsdon
    Spectator
    Quote:
    1) How do a “lunar orlanthi” of Sylila react when he hears the Red Emperor declare celebration of the death of Orlanth after the fall of Whitewall? That the imperial troops, who preach inclusiveness and tolerance suddenly oppresses the worship of a god, who is otherwise known as the great ally of the Red Goddess in his homeland?

    The Lunar ideology is based on the concept We Are All Us, but like all ideologies us is people who think and believe as us, not the others who don’t. And, in the wider Pelorian culture Orlanth is and always has been the hostile other who slew the Sun, and more recently contested at Castle Blue against the Red Goddess’ right to exist, something he still doesn’t accept as they are effectively in competition for the domain of the Middle Air. In addition, the Goddess embodies Chaos, something Orlanth and all his kin fought against. The two deities are philosophically diametrically opposed, and the cultures they embody – Solar/Lunar versus Storm/Air – are similarly opposed by the culture and custom of lowlanders versus uplanders. (Consider the cultural conflict in the uplands between the worshipers of Yelmalio and Orlanth).

    In the Empire, Orlanth worship is only tolerated where it is a useful tool (such as on the borders with Dorastor – which has too much Chaos even for the Lunars) and proscribed elsewhere, save in the outer provinces where it either poses no threat or is in the process of being eroded away by cultural assimilation by means of the cult of the Seven Mothers.

    Quote:
    2) Is the Red Goddess and the Orlanth worshipped inside the glowline philosophically able to agree on the nature of Chaos?

    Individuals might (though they’d better be Illuminated to avoid the Spirits of Reprisal) but on a wider level, no.

    In very approximate terrestrial terms, I imagine it’s a little like the divide between Zoroastrianism and Hinduism, where in the former a Daeva is a hostile supernatural entity and in the later a Devi or Deva is a favorable supernatural entity, only much more so.

    #8014
    Profile photo of Scott Martin
    Scott Martin
    Spectator
    Quote:
    Quote from Peter Metcalfe on May 30, 2014, 11:48
    Quote from Martin Helsdon on May 30, 2014, 15:53

    Great stuff. To open up a more secular sideline on Mr Yellow’s great theological questions, you guys finally helped me understand the note of apocalyptic desperation that creeps into the escalating South War strategy as the Wane waxes. The old “maddened search for a route to the sea / warm water port” hypothesis is very useful in uncovering what an effectively landlocked empire is trying to do in its push through Sartar across Prax to Pavis and then down to miserable Corflu, but not so hot on why now. How did this uh spiral from protecting the trade routes to killing a god? Why can’t we take our time?

    The answer there is of course simple. Dormal’s adventure opened up the lozenge and the empire suddenly needed to accelerate its long-term southern ambitions to ensure itself a stake in that once the 54-year cycle was in a position to cooperate. (Remember, lunar magic was already on the wane after 1571 and uh cratered in 1598.) Knocking over Sartar starts out as a tactical objective in the generational struggle with the Holy Country and eventually metastasizes into an end in itself and a goal of religious policy. At this point neutralizing the storm pantheon once and for all has become Mission No. 1 and the geopolitical and commercial ambitions are relative sidelines.

    Six other little points to embroider on what you’ve already given Mr Yellow, one for each element:

    A. The theory that Danfive Xaron is cosmically a mask of Orlanth has become fairly entrenched in the lore over the decades. Whether we buy it or not, odds are good that powerful people within the 7M cult have pushed it as an argument for why Orlanth is such a terrible role model and how he can be rehabilitated through tough love. And Sylila in particular is arguably the heart of the 7M form of the Lunar Way, so lunarized Orlanthi there would get a double dose of that behavioral agenda.

    B. On the flip side, people who can track their families back to EWF territory probably remember that (blue) lunar forces conspired to wreck that grand storm people project centuries before the Shepelkirt rose, so there’s a precedent for interactions with the moon element being dubious at best. If storm is another name for (healable) chaos to the lunars, moon is another name for (irreparable) chaos to these people. It’s hard to mediate this fundamental disagreement.

    C. Truly “lunarized” Orlanthi welcome the end of the antagonism but Orlanthi in lunar territory are unlikely to be convinced. As it is, the more devout families have been rebelling and/or emigrating for generations now, starting projects like Tarsh along the way.

    D. That whole territory north of Dragon Pass and south of Dara Happa is historically “Saird” and so depending on your point of view is a blend of storm and sky culture or else a third cultural entity entirely. Among other things, this is Yelmalio country. While the storm side has been suppressed over time, it’s unclear whether these people ever saw the relationship between storm and sky as antagonistically as either the Dara Happans or the Heortlings.

    E. The “best swordsmen and seekers” of Sartar drawn back to the Holy Country to deal with the vacancy there may be Holy Country “advisors” in place to prop up Saigon Boldhome but the timing is mysterious. Maybe Jeff will tell us about how the MOLAD tournaments play out around 1600-2. Jar-Eel may not have been the first dart the empire threw at Belintar, back when they cared more about him and the sea than about taming the wind.

    F. A close look at the records may indicate that lunar crazy ebbs and flows in time with their magic, so that every 54 years their insane ambition crests when their perception of their abilities is at its peak. To some obscure fans, this might be a sign that lunar magic and lunar insanity are the same thing, in which case everything the empire has done since around 1598-9 has been increasingly irrational. Or they’re always crazy up there but on a 27/27 bipolar cycle, so we are about ready to enter a depressive slump after the cosmic freakout of dragonrise.

    #8015
    Profile photo of Evilroddy
    Evilroddy
    Spectator

    Peter Metcalf wrote:
    “I’ve heard second handedly, is that the Lunars are trying to kill Orlanth so he can be Illuminated in the Underworld just as their Goddess was.”
    If this is true then why not just ambush Orlanth on the Light-bringers’ Quest by stealth-fully switching out Eurmal for a tricky illuminate Lunar hero in disguise? He could work on Orlanth’s psyche and soon have the job done. You don’t have to kill Orlanth to reveal his “seventh Godly soul” do you? It seems a bit extreme. But what do I know?
    Cheers.
    Rod Robertson.

    #8017
    Profile photo of Martin Helsdon
    Martin Helsdon
    Spectator
    Quote:
    To open up a more secular sideline on Mr Yellow’s great theological questions, you guys finally helped me understand the note of apocalyptic desperation that creeps into the escalating South War strategy as the Wane waxes. The old “maddened search for a route to the sea / warm water port” hypothesis is very useful in uncovering what an effectively landlocked empire is trying to do in its push through Sartar across Prax to Pavis and then down to miserable Corflu, but not so hot on why now. How did this uh spiral from protecting the trade routes to killing a god? Why can’t we take our time?

    Given the nature of the cosmos, in which everything is reliant upon magic and is magical, I suspect you can’t divide the religious from the secular, and the quest for the sea embodies not merely economic and imperial ambitions, but a much greater intent: As one of the Great Gods, Orlanth is fundamental to the existence of Glorantha, and ultimately the Red Goddess aspires to taking his place. The geography isn’t just territory, it’s a region with implicit religious and mythical implications, and Dragon Pass and the Holy Country are intimately associated with Orlanth and Ernalda, just as the sea still rises and falls according to the fragment of an ancient broken Moon goddess. The tides could be exerting an irresistible pull on the Empire.

    #8020
    Profile photo of Harald Smith
    Harald Smith
    Spectator
    Quote:
    the quest for the sea embodies not merely economic and imperial ambitions, but a much greater intent

    It may well be that the Lunar ‘tide’ must move southward, and even across the waters, in order for the Red Moon to continue rising higher into the air and closer to the sky (and thereby healing the breach between earth and sky from Umath’s birth).

    Quote:
    why not just ambush Orlanth on the Light-bringers’ Quest by stealth-fully switching out Eurmal for a tricky illuminate Lunar hero in disguise?

    Probably because the poor illuminated Lunar would be overcome/overwhelmed/betrayed by Eurmal and/or become Eurmal whether he/she wanted to or not and fully experience the cosmic joke Eurmal has played on him/her.

    #8022
    Profile photo of Peter Metcalfe
    Peter Metcalfe
    Spectator
    Quote:
    If this is true then why not just ambush Orlanth on the Light-bringers’ Quest by stealth-fully switching out Eurmal for a tricky illuminate Lunar hero in disguise?

    That will only work on the particular party (and their supporting community) – what the Lunars want is the entire God.

    #8023
    Profile photo of Michael Hitchens
    Michael Hitchens
    Spectator

    Hi

    While I’ve enjoyed reading the replies (having been interested in Glorantha for 30 years, not the original poster’s three), I think one of King in Yellow’s points has been missed

    “I find the idea that the entire orlanthi culture is locked in some kind of eternal, obsessive conflict with the Lunar Empire and ideology and vice versa very simplistic and not overly interesting.”

    What I interpret him as saying is that the apparent black and white nature of the conflict is not appealing to him as someone new to Glorantha.

    Castle Blue proved Sedenya’s right to exist. Orlanth has had that since the Great Compromise. So while the Lunar Empire (Red Goddess) and Orlanthi (Orlanth) ae currently looked in a death struggle, does it have to be that way? As Ernalda says, there is always another way.

    I’ve wondered if the ‘future history’ in King of Sartar shows what happens if the situation doesn’t change. I’ve often toyed with the idea of running a campaign that goes way beyond 1625 where the challenge for the players is stop that rather dismal future by somehow finding a way out of the current death spiral between Sedenya and Orlanth.

    #8025
    Profile photo of Peter Metcalfe
    Peter Metcalfe
    Spectator

    The entire Orlanthi culture is not locked in eternal conflict with the Red Moon. The average Orlanthi does not wake up in the morning and think of six ways to destroy the Red Moon before breakfast. Orlanth is locked in conflict with the Red Moon but that is one of many enemies that Orlanth has (others include the Dragons, Magasta, Chaos and Zzabur the Godless).

    The conflict with the Red Moon is acute in Dragon Pass because the Lunars have made it so (by being there in force). Elsewhere the Red Moon is a distant threat whose importance is often drowned out by other threats (Fronela – Kingdom of War, Loskalm, King Cong’s Tax Collectors; Ralios – Arkati, Seshnela; Maniria – Greymane, Ramalia; Kethaela – Wolf Pirates, the Print, the Aeolians and the Red Moon; Umathela – Fonrit).

    #8030
    Profile photo of Adam Fastholm
    Adam Fastholm
    Spectator

    Thank you all for your great replies, they have been very helpful and interesting in further understanding the mythic and political context that underlies the current development in the lunar-orlanthi context.

    My consideration was, like michaelh points out, amongst other things whether worshippers of both Orlanth and Sedenya, who do not see any enmity between their gods, exist? I am aware that not all orlanthi (or lunars for that matter) are engaged in all-out war between the moon and storm, but the antipathy seems to exist among all orlanthi and all lunars. However it seems possible that not all orlanthi interprets the relationship of Sedenya and Orlanth as in KoS p. 96-98, the book states after all that:

    Quote:
    These are not the only known versions of many of these myths. Other bodies of lore provide similar tales, sometimes with a different outlook.

    Maybe other orlanthi believes that the Battle of Castle Blue was the event where the Red Goddess passed the tests of Orlanth and were welcomed by him to join the gods (instead of accusing her of cheating). Similarly the marriage of Ingkot Axe-and-a-Half and Hwarin Dalthippa may be seen as a marriage between the gods.

    I read a rather interesting point in the digest (from 1997 it should be noted)

    Quote:
    In Sartar, the people of the Red Goddess do bad things to the
    people of Orlanth. So she is an enemy of Orlanth. In Saird, the people of
    the Red Goddess rule well over the people of Orlanth, and so they are not
    enemies. Some priests in Saird no doubt where able to prove that they were
    enemies. They died, and those who listened to them died – or in any case
    left the temples of Saird. Some priestesses of the Red Goddess are able to
    prove that she aided Orlanth. So she must be an ally.
    Ask a god ‘what do you think?’ is the same as asking a god to
    express Free Will. They do not have Free Will. At best, you get your
    question back like a mirror.
    ‘Is Shepelkirt a vile stain on existence?’ Yes
    ‘Is the Red Goddess who tamed Gagarth and his Sky Bears a useful
    ally of Orlanth?’ Yes
    http://glorantha.temppeli.org/digest/gd4/1997.06/3795.html

    I know that this may not correspond completely with the gloranthan lore, but I think it is a rather interesting subject as the relationship between these two worldviews are a central part of the setting.

    #8031
    Profile photo of Scott Martin
    Scott Martin
    Spectator

    I adore Mr Cake’s divination notes there. To the extent to which we can ask the gods a question about their mythic reality, we are always free to do it. Otherwise, we’re forced to reach for whatever grubby tools are available when the divination points inevitably run out.

    We know that several more-or-less “Orlanthi” peoples had been more-or-less integrated into the Lunar Way before the general-priests forced the Sartar situation so the provinces would be a great place to look for the syncretism that interests you.

    The GUIDE says: “The natives of Upper Peloria are Orlanthi in origin, and generally follow Orlanthi cultural patterns. Most, however, have come under one or another form of Lunar influence … open Orlanth worship is only permitted in the more western provinces and the wildest parts of the eastern provinces. Despite the Lunar attempt to substitute more acceptable gods for Orlanth among the tribesfolk, most barbarians under the Lunar thumb have simply dropped storm worship.”

    While this implies that most Orlanthi who have made room in their lives for 7M and the broader Lunar Way have had to trade out the storm god in order to do it, there’s still room in that “most” for the more accommodative strategies you point to. Narratives of 7M conversion would probably be a great place to see how this works.

    Personally I think the Lunars “are doing it wrong” by wheedling their way into these societies entirely on the Earth side, but you fight with the mythos you have. This may be part of why Tarsh-as-we-know-it is such a magically important pivot in the lore.

    Practically I think it’s as simple as knowing that Sacred Time only comes once a year and you can only attend one rite or the other. And the old rite is mostly illegal.

    In the distant past you might also find parallels in the terrible Loko Moko era when initiation to Orlanth was outlawed and a generation of “Orlanthi” was forced to live without that particular storm god — and yet they seem to have come roaring back after Harmast’s revelations.

    Love the tidal hypothesis for explaining both what the empire wants and why has become so urgent now. Magicians who could wait patiently the better part of a wane to neutralize Belintar are rushing now that they’ve seen the sea and have the wave fever on them. Cowabunga! Indlas Somer! Shargash don’t surf!

    #8032
    Profile photo of Martin Helsdon
    Martin Helsdon
    Spectator
    Quote:
    My consideration was, like michaelh points out, amongst other things whether worshippers of both Orlanth and Sedenya, who do not see any enmity between their gods, exist? I am aware that not all orlanthi (or lunars for that matter) are engaged in all-out war between the moon and storm, but the antipathy seems to exist among all orlanthi and all lunars.

    There’s a significant difference between Orlanthi and worshippers of Orlanth. Orlanthi culture worships not only Orlanth and his relatives, but also the Lightbringers, many of whom are foreign gods who joined in his quest. Most of them are more neutral towards the Lunars but they still hate Chaos. Some of his household are bound by blood ties to Orlanth. It’s also worth noting that whilst the Lunars ’embrace’ Chaos as part of their worldview, the majority don’t embrace it literally, and its most blatant aspects (such as the Crimson Bat) are kept well away from the core provinces, and if seen there would terrify the populace as much as they do those in the outer provinces. This means that so long as Lunars don’t display obvious Chaos taint, many Orlanthi can and will deal with them, though some tensions might remain.

    In some ways the decline of the Elmal cult and the rise of the Yelmalio cult prefigures the effect of lowland Pelorian cults on the uplands – by weakening Orlanth’s thane it also weakens the unity of the upland cultures. This isn’t just a new Lunar-inspired phenomenon – it’s happened before.

    In virtually all of the Lunar conquests, save where Orlanth is useful, most of his worshipers have instead turned to open worship of Barntar (though Orlanth worship may carry on in secret). There seems to be a distinct pattern to Lunar dealings with Orlanth: either ban or insert Lunar-friendly priests into temple hierarchies, whilst working towards assimilation, until Orlanth worship becomes a declining rural (pagan!) faith, held only by the outliers of society: bandits, outlaws, rebels. And the Lunars aren’t entirely anti-Storm Gods – they’ve been trying to introduce the more manageable cult of Doburdan, a storm god enslaved by the Red Emperor.

    And we have a very definite indicator of Imperial policy of what happens when the Lunars initiate the Windstop, having imprisoned Orlanth. It’s unlikely they fully predicted the outcome, but as a sign of intent it is unmistakable.

    #8033
    Profile photo of Scott Martin
    Scott Martin
    Spectator
    Quote:
    Quote from King in Yellow on May 31, 2014, 16:19
    Maybe other orlanthi believes that the Battle of Castle Blue was the event where the Red Goddess passed the tests of Orlanth and were welcomed by him to join the gods (instead of accusing her of cheating).

    The key to this one might be in finding out who tells the Castle Blue stories we’re all familiar with. I’m sure the experts on both sides will correct me if I’m wrong, but I vaguely recall “cheated at Castle Blue” as a propaganda point in Jannisor’s War whereas “passed the tests fair and square” is more likely as the Just So that let the Carmanians convert.

    Now as this ancient fragment of Joerg (http://glorantha.temppeli.org/digest/gd3/1996.08/0977.html) indicates, Orlanth probably wasn’t even the star of the Castle Blue home team (he shows up among “foreigners”) unless we’re forgetting something about the Bull Shahs and/or the post-Carmanian religious history of the Lakrene tribes. It’s no more (or less) a storm people conflict than it’s an aldryami or a mostali conflict.

    So how do our wonderful hypothetical Heortlings hear this story and make up their minds? At a 7M pancake supper? When the wind priests want to scare us against northern luxury and lies?

    As a rare direct interaction between (red) Moon and Water the story may contain hidden uh depths as well. Orlanth also has to prove himself against Water when it comes to the Baths.

    #8034
    Profile photo of Martin Helsdon
    Martin Helsdon
    Spectator
    Quote:
    Now as this ancient fragment of Joerg (http://glorantha.temppeli.org/digest/gd3/1996.08/0977.html) indicates, Orlanth probably wasn’t even the star of the Castle Blue home team (he shows up among “foreigners”) unless we’re forgetting something about the Bull Shahs and/or the post-Carmanian religious history of the Lakrene tribes.

    But see this this reply:
    http://glorantha.temppeli.org/digest/gd3/1996.08/0986.html
    Umm, Orlanth was involved in the battle in the very beginning and so
    was Urox according to the fortunate succession. Remember the Orlanthi
    of Heortland got sore heads when the Red Moon rose?
    – –Peter Metcalfe

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