Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Western Heroquesting

Here's a post I made on the World of Glorantha list about Western heroquesting, responding to the statement that it's rather "abstract":

> The Monotheist experience seems a bit more abstract.

It can be, yes, but it doesn't have to be. Remember, the majority of monotheists aren't wizards (that is, they use wizardry magic, but they aren't pointy-hat wearing professionals). When you attend a monotheist religious service, you experience the Otherworld, and you re-enact the myths of Malkion, the saints, and whoever else it may be. Sure, to an outsider, it may appear that the vicar takes the holy book out of the Arcarium and reads a lesson from it, but if you're in that congregation, the "lesson" becomes real for you; it's a myth that you're interacting with.

Take the New Year's Day ceremony, since that's pretty much universal (albeit not your regular weekly service). You're standing there in the Church, and then the walls and ceiling begin to fade. Now you're in the middle of the countryside, and the sky is gray, like early twilight... but you know it's been like that for all of your life. The landscape around you is gloomy, starved of light. You feel the crushing monotony of the world, of your life in this semi-darkness, holding onto the hope that, one day, God will make it better. You begin to pray, feeling a presence that God is with you, and that soon, very soon, your wait will be over (because you feel you've been waiting all your life for this, and so have your ancestors, for generations back). God will deliver you, because you have been faithful, and Malkion's sacrifice made it so.

And then the sun rises.

And so you continue through the story of the first day, and the first night, and the service ends with the second dawn. Now, here you're experiencing how your ancestors *felt*, but the point is that it's not purely abstract. Another example might be on the High Holy Day of Saint Josselyne, where his adepts will find themselves in the garrison defending his castle against the final onslaught of the Brithini. And, of course, you can heroquest by repeating the saint's actions to gain some benefit - the key point usually being to emulate his virtues.

Sure, if you're a wizard of, say, the Iron Blood School, your heroquests may well be a good deal more abstract, trying to forge link between nodes on the Essence Planes, or building the runes into a new pattern, or something. But even then, you may be interacting with physical (if fairly impersonal) entities that have obvious meanings to anyone - the Sea, for instance, if you're a Debaldan.

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