July 17, 2014 at 6:10 pm #9975
Before reading the Guide, my understanding was that chaos simply meant ‘evil’ or implied some want for the destruction of the universe.
I’m a little way through the guide now and have just read about Fonrit. Fonritians worship Ompalam (who has the runes chaos, mastery, harmony) amongst other chaos spirits and gods, so unless they’re totally crazy, they can’t consider chaos to mean ‘evil’; this means that chaos has to imply something else, and if the supreme God of the universe is chaotic and holding the world together, then it can’t mean a want for destruction either.
I wonder if the runes have separate meanings to different people and where Orlanthi would see ‘evil’ a Fonritian would see ‘order’, but then again there is nothing ordered about chaos monsters, so would the Fonritians see them as possessing a different rune?
What is chaos? What are the implications of being ‘tainted’ by chaos, or what even is a ‘taint’?July 17, 2014 at 8:58 pm #9980
Fonrit seems to be the nastiest of the major cultures, and think most outsiders probably consider them to be, if not total, at least somewhat crazy.July 17, 2014 at 9:27 pm #9981
Even so, I would still imagine they think their society as a just one. There are millions of people in Fonrit, they can’t all think of themselves as malevolent. I would doubt more than a handful do.
There must be other cultures who worship chaos entities to bring about goodness. Some Lunars worship the Crimson Bat and I’m sure they think they are doing it for the benefit of humanity. The Lunars think that chaos is a part of the universe, so then what does the chaos rune imply?
From what I know, it seems inconceivable that it could mean either the will to destroy the universe or malevolence.July 17, 2014 at 10:28 pm #9982
Why not view Ompalam as mastering the powers of self-destruction/malevolence (Chaos) and using them for a “higher” good? Thus, the inclusion of the Harmony and Mastery Runes. Fonrit would view its culture as more sophisticated–capable of using dark powers without being overcome or corrupted by them–than the simple-minded, no-shades-of-gray Orlanthi with their flat rejection of Chaos.
Compare this to Humakt and the Death Rune. Non-Humakti could reject the religion just because they don’t want to worship Death in any way. But rather than avoiding Death or fighting against it futilely, Humakti accept the fact of death and use its existence for what they consider higher goods: honor, finality, and the ability to make hard choices.
But I have to admit I’m posting without seeing the Guide yet. I’d probably run it this way, though.July 18, 2014 at 12:49 am #9986
The word from Jeff is that the Fonritans use Chaos because it is “useful”.
My personal theory is that the chaotic nature of Fonritan Gods was brutally revealed to them during the Vadeli hegemony 30 to 40 years ago. Before that time, very few people (ie the Rulers) knew the chaotic basis of Fonrit’s Gods. Now it has become common knowledge and the Fonritans are still coming to terms with the nature of the calamity (5 stages: 1. Flog Blues 2. Kill Elves 3. Worship Seseine with Heads on Plates 4. Make Zombies out of your friends and family 5. Acceptance).
I doubt that Fonritans would have a common understanding of what chaos is in the way that the Orlanthi do. What they have is the knowledge that Chaos is very Bad and that their Gods (by definition Good) are chaotic. There are many different philosophers and priests offering explanations and guidance but they do not have anything like the “We Are All Us” truth of the Lunar Empire to comfort them.
The one thing that Fonritans can’t do (although they wish they could) is avoid the use of chaos altogether (use as in use by the Fonritan’s personal community such as a clan or city, not necessarily by the individual Fonritan). If they give up chaos, then they get beaten or enslaved by someone who has not given up the use of chaos and that is even worse.July 18, 2014 at 1:13 am #9987
Well, one way to handle it is to say: Ompalam, as the master of all, has enslaved Chaos and used it to shape the material universe. When worshipped under Ompalam’s control, Chaos can be used to do good and further Ompalam’s control. When outside of the proper chains, Chaos is evil.July 18, 2014 at 2:16 am #9988
To answer directly, chaos is like antimatter. Put another way, it’s the opposite of cosmos. When it comes into contact with the world it annihilates some things and corrupts other things around the edges. It manifests as evil, or mutations, or chaos monsters. There’s an article/s somewhere about the “five forms of chaos”.
Chaos taint is like a scar. You might get power from it the way you could get power from a mutation, or you could be hurt by it, or both or neither.
I think Fonrit is interesting. Why is Ompalam chaotic? Why is a whole culture worshipping evil gods?
I feel like Ompalam doesn’t have to be chaotic. Part of the reason to make him so is an idea that you see sometimes about Glorantha, that basically
evil has chaos at its root. I don’t feel that’s necessary. Also – this is effectively a pun, but not totally – if any culture is Lawful Evil, it’s Fonrit.
Whether Ompalam is chaotic or not: come on, dude, he’s a gross fat guy clutching chains. He’s obviously evil. WTF? One answer I like is “yes, we know he’s cruel and ugly. That image is there for us to meditate on the difficulty of life and accept and overcome it. When you accept the gross fat guy you’re enlightened.”
The Lunars worship chaos and also say that it’s evil. In their case, interpretations vary a bit, but I’d say they say it’s a necessary part of the world, one face of the whole of good and evil, and may not and must not be rejected.July 18, 2014 at 2:25 am #9989
> I don’t feel that’s necessary.
I mean, if you can accept that small feelings, thoughts, and acts of evil can exist in people without it being chaotic, then it makes sense to me that in some part of the world, that could be amplified to the extreme _and be a part of the cosmos_. It makes sense, and it feels cooler and more interesting to me than (to caricature a bit) just blaming everything bad on chaos.July 18, 2014 at 4:30 am #9991
I’m very tired so someone else with better recollection can pick up the loose threads, but some Fontritians travelled to Genertela, can’t remember what they did, king went to the Brithini and was “mistaken” for a Vadeli. I quote “mistaken” because the tale was from the pov of the kings people and I really doubt the Brithini are stupid enough to mistake someone for a Vadeli. Thus, I always thought the Fonritians were Vadeli who’d spread to Fonrit. So it makes sense that upon returning, the Vadeli would head straight for Fonrit and expose the true origin and nature of the Fonritians.
If that’s so, then the Fonritians worship a Chaos god because it aids in the Invisible Gods goal (per the Vadeli) of destroying his creation.July 18, 2014 at 7:35 am #9994
Evil does not equal Chaos in Glorantha! One thing that I always loved about the setting was how trolls (for example) would be considered evil by most people (they eat sentient beings), but are in fact one of the greatest champions against chaos. Tusk riders have pretty near no redeeming features (they are very evil) , but they are not chaotic…July 18, 2014 at 8:27 am #9998
Tusk Riders are a good counterexample. Trolls are a legitimate counterexample but a weaker one.
For the most part, only trolls and other creatures of Darkness worship
[the Darkness] pantheon. Though normally possessed of ill-will toward humanity, such entities [it’s not clear exactly whether that means trolls or Darkness gods, but it doesn’t really matter] are not evil; they bore the brunt of the Chaos Wars, for instance.”
– GtG and RQ3 Intro to Glorantha
It illustrates a prevalent editorial stance about trolls. It’s also telling that it uses opposition to chaos as evidence of not being evil.
Also, I didn’t say evil equals chaos in Glorantha. What I said is more nuanced.July 18, 2014 at 8:29 am #9999
^ But, I appreciate that your post addressed the first post as much as mine.July 18, 2014 at 9:55 am #10001
Alex: “so unless they’re totally crazy, they can’t consider chaos to mean ‘evil’”
Chaos is evil. If you are an Orlanthi you fight it. If you are a Lunar, you think you can handle it. If you are a Fonritan, you think it’s cool being evil.
Furthermore I would say, that most cultures agree that Fonritans are evil, too. Even the Fonritans themselves would probably not claim to have a just and lawful society.
Alex: “There are millions of people in Fonrit, they can’t all think of themselves as malevolent.” Well, I don’t think they would call themselves benevolent, either. Standard morale concepts are of no meaning for most Fonritans, because they simply don’t care. If it makes you stronger, or if it gives you some cruel feeling of pleasure, or if it makes your enemies fear you, then it’s obviously good. Does the end justify the means? For a Fonritan the answer is simply: Always!
Roko Joko: “if any culture is Lawful Evil, it’s Fonrit”
This alignment is from D&D and does not apply to Glorantha. Like the real world, Glorantha, is too complex and to big to put everybody in a 3×3 matrix.
Roko Joko: “When you accept the gross fat guy you’re enlightened.”
I don’t think Fonritans care for enlightenment, either. Their motto is slavery.
Roko Joko: “Why is Ompalam chaotic? Why is a whole culture worshipping evil gods? I feel like Ompalam doesn’t have to be chaotic.”
Ompalam is chaotic because he is the ultimate perversion of society and the cosmos. Not every chaotic deity works on an instant destruction of the world. Ikadz, Seseine, Gark, Thanatar and others are example of chaos deities that don’t go for instant kill.July 18, 2014 at 1:17 pm #10002
Chaos is what the base runes of Glorantha, therefore the world devolved from. With a perfect world, there was nothing to fear from chaos, it was was outside the world. But the world got broken and chaos seeps in through the cracks. What it touches, it corrupts, trying to make it more like itself, an unordered self.
The danger with chaos is that it corrupts what ever embraces it. If you are worshipping a chaos god, then ultimately it can corrupt you, if you embrace its chaos aspect. Mallia for example can be propitiated by Praxians and Sartarites. They engage only her Death and Darkness elements, there is no chaos aspect. However the Broos embrace her third rune, chaos, that’s a different matter.
With the Lunars, it’s a bit more straightforward – chaos is there, but the strictures say “do not use it or it will corrupt you”. Lunar initiates with chaos features are quickly disposed of if discovered. You don’t want individuals running around with chaos magic and features trying to destroy society with their actions. With illumination, it becomes easy to hide your chaos problem and act as a normal member of society. Illumination helps to ward off the the corrupting influence of chaos (the red goddess did it), however it’s not always successful and some fall into the madness of occlusion.
In the case of Fonrit and Ompalam, it would make sense that the lower echelons of society are not exposed to the chaos aspects of Omplalam. The High Priests however are undoubtedly illuminated and seething with chaos powers that lets them stay on top and keep control. Occasionally one will become exposed and the populace will react against it, enslaving the monster, showing who is really in charge.
Few can ultimately control chaos without becoming totally corrupted, and even those who appear to do so do it with a mask – just look at what the ultimate face of chaos does at the end of the World on page 746 – Plate 40. Looks like Ralzakark wins…July 18, 2014 at 3:36 pm #10005
There’s a lot of contradictory suggestions here, so I guess there isn’t a fairly cut and dry answer to this question.
Eric & Edan:
So then what does chaos represent when used righteously? If Ompalam’s (and the other worshiped gods’) use of chaos is good, then it must have meaning outside the definition of ‘evil’.
Your personal theory makes sense to me- that the chaotic nature of Fonritian gods were unknown, except that it seems strange that a civilisation could not know such a great detail about their most intimate gods. There’s an image on this website (eight major cultures) and in the guide of a pair of Fonritians standing under an aged and cracked pillar baring the chaos rune, if your theory is correct, then they must have understood this rune to mean something different.
I sort of get that chaos is the opposite of the cosmos, I just don’t understand what the opposite of the cosmos is. It clearly has some nasty effects (taint, monsters, evil etc) whatever it is.
The Guide specifically says Ompalam has the chaos rune, so he must be chaotic.
If evil has chaos at its root, does that mean that prior to the introduction of chaos there was no evil? I think evil and chaos must be separate things because there are events which happened before chaos which could be described as ‘evil’, like many events in the God’s War. There’s obviously a link between the two concepts however.
I like the idea that some might say ‘evil is a necessary part of the world’ though, in which case Ompalam could be both good and evil for the benefit of the world harmony.
I would like to hear that story! I don’t think the Fonritians are Videlian though, at least the Guide separates them quite clearly. Though they’re obviously affected very much by Videlian culture.
Your view of Fonrit is very different to mine! I would say most Fonritians are, like most people, selfless and considerate; even if their political institutions are very corrupt. Even the most conservative Fonritians- those who devote their lives to slavery in all aspects, have pity for people who aren’t slaves.
If chaos is “an unordered self”, then what is disorder?
I hadn’t gotten to the end of the guide yet, those plates are awesome! But I wouldn’t say the goal of all chaos Gods is the destruction of all things (is it?), just as wind gods and death gods want different things.
Thanks for your answers everyone!
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