Home Forums Glorantha Glorantha Discussions What is Chaos?


This topic contains 48 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Alex Alex 3 years, 11 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 49 total)
  • Author
  • #10009
    Profile photo of Roko Joko
    Roko Joko

    > I just don’t understand what the opposite of the cosmos *is*.

    To elaborate on antimatter: nonexistence, nonbeing, absence, void, vacuum, oblivion. Not to get too clever, but it could be that you’re frustrated thinking about what it *is* because its nature is that it *is* not anything. It’s a philosophical idea of nonexistence that says that when nonexistence contacts existence, everything that it doesn’t destroy completely is destroyed partially – corrupted – in a way that we see as evil.

    One version of the “five forms of chaos” bit is here: http://seiyuu.com/okamoto/writing/arkatgbaji.html.

    > The Guide specifically says Ompalam has the chaos rune, so he must be chaotic.

    No, I didn’t mean “I feel like Ompalam doesn’t have to be chaotic” as an assertion of whether or not the Guide says he is.

    > 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.

    Another way to interpret it is that the *worst* evil is usually chaotic. “Usually”, with exceptions including Tusk Riders or arguably Arkat.

    > If evil has chaos at its root, does that mean that
    > prior to the introduction of chaos there was no evil?

    You seem to be looking for a definite answer, but I don’t think your question is supposed to have one.

    That said, maybe “the worst evil is usually chaotic” can help here. There are few or no descriptions of *extreme* evil in Creation/Green/Golden Age era myths.

    Another way to look a it is to start from an assumption that evil is what people call whatever they hate. Then, it’s natural that most people would perceive any kind of existential destruction to be evil. “Most”, because there’s a Kralorelan idea of the void that says it’s good or neutral, and a Vithelan one that says there’s a reality that transcends both existence and nonexistence.

    Profile photo of Scott-A

    In my mind, the mark of chaos is that it takes away more than it gives. For instance, ogres get tremendous strength from their unholy rites, but they prey upon men and offer nothing in return.

    Where it gets complicated is when you get into situations where Chaos is overwhelmed by the productive nature of the cosmos. Human sacrifice is a good example. Is it chaotic to sacrifice a baby to empower yourself? Absolutely. But what if you only sacrifice your excess slaves in accordance to rigid population controls? You could argue that such a situation, as horrible as it is, is one where a greater power has dominated Chaos and made it a tool. Fonritians and Lunars likely see their chaotic magic in that light.

    That brings me to the second hallmark of Chaos: it’s corrupting nature. Ogres, for instance, could be argued to be simply predators. However, natural predators are bound up as part of the world, and are balanced with it. Ogres have no balance; they kill and destroy and undermine for fun, and would happily send the world to hell in a handbasket for shits and giggles. Compare them to the cannibal men of Prax, whom have their part and place in the world. Chaos seeks to be more terrible than it currently is.

    So that there is the secret of chaos: it wants to spread, infect, and ultimately tear down everything. Sometimes it can’t due to superior powers, but it always wants to.

    Profile photo of boztakang

    Chaos reduces existence.

    When Uz spread, infect, and tear things down, they are doing it to create more uz. They consume things to make them “better” (more dark and uzly) when a troll eats your baby, it’s soul is returned to the underworld to be born again into another baby later. Its flesh strengthens the consuming uz, and if all goes well, eventually is made into an Uz Baby. Nothing is “lost” – just changed (the good or bad of that change depends on your perspective). If your baby is dissolved by gorp, some portion of it is gone forever… maybe the soul escapes, maybe part of the flesh becomes new gorp, but there is always less gorp than there was baby, and there is no way to get the “baby” back out.

    I think the key to Fonritan self-esteem can probably be best summed up as: “It’s not My Fault, I’m just following orders.” Yes, the world is ultimately doomed, but by embracing your role, and obeying your master in all things, you can help ensure that your particular piece of the world outlasts the rest. “Good” means being the best slave you can be, because obedient slaves make a strong master, and only a strong master can properly care for and protect their slaves.

    “The Orlanthi may claim that chaos is Evil, and ‘freedom’ is good, but they are wrong. It was not chaos that rebelled against the natural order of the universe and caused the great darkness. It was the storm’s Rebellion against its natural Master. That original rebellion broke the world, and let chaos in. Now we must embrace the chaos of the World that Is, and serve masters who can bend that chaos to their will. Chaos gives our Masters the power to quell the true Evil of rebellion. Know your Role. Serve your Master. Obey and Live.”

    Profile photo of Peter Metcalfe
    Peter Metcalfe

    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.

    The Fonritan pair picture is in the Guide p44. As for the Chaos Rune pillar, I don’t think that’s a significant piece of evidence either way. It could be from an evil place the pair were visiting or the rune could be placed as a warning sign of nearby chaos and so forth. The Fonritans would have known of the Chaos Rune from the God Learners at the very least and agree with its associations.

    As for the “it seems strange that a civilization could not know such a great detail”, my own statement in the post you responded to was that it was known to very few people, the rulers, who kept it secret from everybody else. Every other Fonritan was kept in the dark until the Vadeli came and revealed the Truth.

    Profile photo of David Summers
    David Summers

    We have a Lunar Campaign. One view that some of use have is that chaos is here to stay, those who think it can be removed from the world a fooling themselves. Therefore one has to find a way of accommodating its presence in the world.

    I think most of the group would agree the Lunar attitude is that chaos is indeed dangerous and without the guidance of the Goddess, should be shunned. David Scott seemed to say the Lunars prevent anyone but the Goddess herself from using chaos (?). My take is that the view can be used, buy only when it comes through the goddess. (“Healed Chaos”, but I think that term is no longer canon.) Anything else is too dangerous to world. Similarly, Ray Turney (who did much of the GMing, some here may remember him) had the Lunar empire strictly control illumination (you had to pass test and they didn’t like people becoming illuminate by riddling), probably for the reasons that David Scott outlined.

    Vis-a-vis the Fronritians, the Lunars don’t “worship chaos”, they worship a goddess who has shown them how to deal with chaos. Worship of primal chaos gods is still “bad” and a reason for being “dealt with”. I don’t know enough about the gods of Fronrit to comment on them directly.

    Profile photo of David Scott
    David Scott

    @davidpsummers, prevention is probably not the right word.

    The upcoming HeroQuest Glorantha book says
    “Most lunar cults have the stricture of never use Chaos in any fashion, however Lunar initiates can
    call upon the Chaos inherent in the Lunar Way”


    “cultists must follow strictures to keep themselves in contact with their New God’s teachings…breaking a stricture can be result in punishment ranging from requiring a simple apology to death.”

    (You can also find info about strictures in the Pavis book.)

    I’d say it’s policed, but the illuminates can get away with it.

    Profile photo of Simon Phipp
    Simon Phipp

    Chaos is not evil.

    Chaos is just Chaos. It is what it is.

    In Gloranthan terms, Chaos is what is Outside Glorantha, it is Not Glorantha. Glorantha was born from Chaos and could well return to Chaos, unless somebody does something. Most of the deities and powers of Glorantha resist the effects of Chaos, actively or passively, as they expect Glorantha to continue to exist. Dayzatar patrols the Sky, keeping Chaos out. The trolls guard the Underworld, keeping Chaos out.

    Ubn the Gods War, Chaos entered the world. In fact, several breaches were made that allowed Chaos to enter. This allows Glorantha to be destroyed from the inside, not just from the outside.

    Many of the manifestations of Chaos are considered evil. Cults of Terror described these. However, some of these do not want Glorantha to be destroyed, as that will mean they are themselves destroyed. Some, however, want the destruction of the world.

    Lunars think they can control and use Chaos. The Red Goddess has taken on the mantle of chaos and it has become an integral part of her. She does not want to destroy the world, so has subverted the nature of Chaos. In many ways, her cult is one of the Non-Evil Chaos cults, although many Orlanthi would disagree.

    Profile photo of David Summers
    David Summers

    The upcoming HeroQuest Glorantha book says
    “Most lunar cults have the stricture of never use Chaos in any fashion, however Lunar initiates can
    call upon the Chaos inherent in the Lunar Way”


    “cultists must follow strictures to keep themselves in contact with their New God’s teachings…breaking a stricture can be result in punishment ranging from requiring a simple apology to death.”

    (You can also find info about strictures in the Pavis book.)

    I’d say it’s policed, but the illuminates can get away with it.

    Sounds about right. Only use chaos through the goddess (what used to be call “healed” chaos) and only the people we allow can use chaos. Same again for illumination.

    Profile photo of Robin Mitra
    Robin Mitra

    David Scott: “The High Priests however are undoubtedly illuminated … Occasionally one will become exposed and the populace will react against it, enslaving the monster”
    I disagree. I think worshipping chaos in Fonrit is perfectly ok. Nobody has to hide it. After all the greatest God of All, Ompalam the Allmighty, is a chaos god – and he is not the only one by far. If a chaotic Ompalam is good, why should a chaotic Ompalam priest be bad?

    Alex: “I would say most Fonritians are, like most people, selfless and considerate; even if their political institutions are very corrupt.”
    Your Glorantha may vary – or mine. Either way I think this assumption might be correct in the real world, where good people blame all the bad stuff on their government. But Fonrit is different. In my Fonrit people are not selfless and considerate. They worship chaos god, either directly or indirectly. They practise murder, torture, and rape. Even the slaves don’t want to be free. They agree with their masters that the system of slavery is good and freedom is bad. They only sometimes disagree between the Oldster and the Renewed factions, whether slaves should have some rights. e.g. whether or not a master should have a reason to punish and torture a slave. But they all agree that the system itself is good.

    Scott-A: “In my mind, the mark of chaos is that it takes away more than it gives.”
    That is the rune of Unequal Exchange/Theft, not Chaos.

    Scott-A: “Is it chaotic to sacrifice a baby to empower yourself? Absolutely.”
    Not all human sacrifices are chaotic, see Ana Gor. But most probably are, especially when they are performed to empower one self.

    Profile photo of Eric Zylstra
    Eric Zylstra

    I’d handle the allegedly righteous use of Chaos by deciding that the Fonrit’s sincerely held beliefs about Ompalam’s “righteous” use of Chaos are wrong. Sure, Chaos is “useful” if you define utility in terms of consequences only, as a Fonritian might. Much like the real world, many Gloranthan cultures have fundamentally incompatible views of how the universe works, but as GM, I can definitively establish who is right. And it’s not Fonrit. (YMMV, but . . . Fonrit? At least pick the Lunars if you want to mix the chocolate with the peanut butter.)

    That doesn’t mean all Fonritians must be nasty people. Most of them probably don’t engage their society’s foundations all that closely or consistently. But overall, their cultural root in something that’s inherently corrupted produces unpleasant fruit–slavery, Chaos taint, and the like.

    Based on the way a past GM ran his world, I view Chaos as a pseudo-Lovecraftian strain of evil–the soul-blasting, uncreate-the-universe, dance-with-Nyarlathotep variety. Other strains of evil would likely reject Chaos unless they could manipulate it to serve their goals. (“If the world is destroyed, how can I dominate it as is my right? Death to Chaos!”)

    Profile photo of Charles

    There’s a whole appendix addressing this question in the Guide to Glorantha, pages 699 to 706 inclusive.

    From the Guide, page 702

    … of high crown [major importance] concerning the hordes of the Divine Fear may be that the Four Horrors of the Long Night [Great Darkness] could have been the Four Origins turned into and through themselves, as a glove may be when first it is sewn and then worn.

    The correspondences are:
    Void (Mystical) -> Wasteworld
    Prime Mover (Sorcerous) -> Kajabor
    Silence (Theistic) -> Howling Rage
    Primal Plasma (Animist) -> Gorpgod

    And they were gathered and led by Wakboth, who in turn was summoned by the Unholy Trio (in the Orlanthi versions of the story, other cultures may have different origins). The trio, Ragnaglar, Thed and Malia, originated as Orlanthi gods gone bad and worse.

    Like the process that generated Glorantha, these chaotic principles devolved and intermixed with other chaos and with Gloranthan entities to become the Chaos that terrorises the Glorantha of the 1620s. With very rare exceptions, the corruption of chaos is evil. But there is also evil that is not chaotic.

    On a more philosopical note, there is a flip side to chaos. Glorantha took the worst of chaos, turned it inside out and the result was Time that supports and sustains Glorantha as ‘living cosmos’. Without time, Glorantha could either have become locked in stasis or have dissolved back into the void/silence etc.


    In a way the Orlanthi are staunch worshippers of Chaos. Their rites for annual renewal of the world reinforce both the world and its exposure to Chaos.

    The Orlanthi hate Chaos with a passion, but their rites (as well as those of the Praxians) require Chaos to be fought.

    Profile photo of David Scott
    David Scott

    @joerg-baumgartner, the orlanthi core renewal rite is the return of the sun, their initiation rites are about surviving chaos. There’s a big difference between require chaos be fought and surviving it. The Praxians are the same, it’s about surviving in a hostile wasteland, in which chaos is present. If Chaos left the world, no Orlanthi or Praxian would summon it back just to fight it. Waha and Storm Bull Khans are different – they need to show they can do what their god did.

    Profile photo of Alex

    I think I understand, so chaos isn’t anything or it is absence. So, a Fonritian slaveowner could eliminate a slave’s desire for freedom (rather than suppress it) using chaos magic, and similarly perhaps a chaos healer could eliminate mental trauma by simply blinking it out of existence rather than through therapy. In most cases an absolute elimination or ‘perversion’ of a concept (no matter how small) could understandably be conceived as something evil.

    I’m not sure if we are disagreeing with each other or not! But you’re absolutely right- Fonritians practice murder, torture and rape and even the slaves don’t want to be free. But (at least in my imagination) they’re doing this to preserve a sacred and important balance and the fact that society is completely unequal and lopsided, without any meritocratic or democratic elements is only just. They’re showing compassion by doing what we would consider heinous.

    I haven’t got that far through the guide yet, I’m still in the early hundreds. It sounds very interesting!

    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard

    Where Chaos leaks into the world, it corrupts the cosmic order. This corruption is personified and manifested by foul, cruel, and maleficent Chaos deities. One such Chaos deity is Ompalam.

    Ompalam teaches that existence is slavery. Humanity exists for the sole purpose of serving the gods as personal slaves. Might makes right and the right of the strong is to command the weak. All the universe obeys this principle, although some pretend to deny.

    Fonritian philosophy does not say that Ompalam is just or compassionate – only that his teachings is true and unquestionable. Individual Fonritians can be as compassionate or kind as any other human, but they have no choice but to acknowledge and worship the Lords of Terror – they are slaves after all.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 49 total)

The forum ‘Glorantha Discussions’ is closed to new topics and replies.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes