Myth plays an important part in shaping the reality of Glorantha. Understanding the myths of your culture allow you to practice magic related to these myths. This isn't just magic in the sense that you can produce "magic spells" or enchant objects. Everyone in the world practices magic in order to fit into natural processes of the world and turn them to survival and civilization.
Key concepts that exist in the design of this world may be challenging to understand initially, but having a general grasp of these ideas can illuminate the otherwise dry facts that make up the invented histories and cultures of Glorantha.
Perspective is as important as TruthEdit
The viewpoint of the viewer depends on certain expectations and certain pre-existing knowledge. The "truth" of a situation or existing feature of the world depends on this viewpoint in order to reveal itself.
Example of perspectiveEdit
There is a great radiant entity that crosses the sky every day. Those that look at this warm and bright object (after taking the right preparations to avoid blindness) see a different entity.
- Worshippers of the solar pantheon see as much as they can see and call this intense radiant being "Yelm".
- Worshippers of the storm pantheon see as much as they can see and call this intense radiant being "Elmal".
- Practitioners of Pentian spirit practices see as much as they can see and call this intense radiant being "Kargzant". Other practitioners see "The Great Bright Treasure", or "Hendrenos".
- Wizards and Sorcerers see as much as they can see and call this intense radiant source of energy "The Sun". Others that follow this tradition of magic might see The Solar Disc Ehilm although Carmanians see the glowing firestick of Idovanus.
- When seen in the Heroplane, they all see the Ultimate Mask of the Sun, which has a name by which they already understand this mask, although at times one of these other "aspects" or ways of understanding the mask of the sun may be stronger, allowing them to see the sun as, for example, Kargzant instead of their expected perception. Even at this time, they would still understand it as the intense radiant being they are familiar with.
Mythology is RealEdit
The myths that people tell in the temples, churches, shrines and hearths allow a real understanding of the world. They illustrate how the world works and how it was created.
Mythology contradicts other MythologyEdit
The myths of one group explain the creation of the world and define the other mythologies as corruptions or through ignorance. But in the game design, all of these myths are true, even though they contradict. Essentially, the world is made of a combination of separate otherworlds, making all of these myths true despite their contradictions.
Mythology can changeEdit
The Middle World, which is the realm of humans, time and constant change, touches and influences the otherwise static worlds of the Gods, Saints and Spirits. Through holy day rituals secrets of the myths may be revealed and during Heroquests powerful members of the community may work to "change" the myths. This change can be through new revelation of hidden parts of the story, or through a reinterpretation of the processes and interactions that create the details of the story. However this change is performed or discovered, the change is real and alters both the landscape of the Otherworld where this myth derives and influences the power of the myth on the real world.
When the new understanding of the myth brings new powers, the heroquesters (and often the community) can use these powers for their benefit in the world.
History is cyclicalEdit
One of the key concepts is that the general flow of history is cyclical. Building up from nothing, people create communities and live in an era of peace and increasing connection. But then these built up communities run into neighbors whose communities are built on different principles. Individuals in the community push for their brethren to teach these foreigners the error of their ways, often take valuable things (wealth, land, rights) from them to reward their winning culture. Eventually the conflict builds to the point of an cataclysmic war (always a risk in a land of power magics) and then a new cycle begins with the survivors building up from nothing.
There are some threads of fate or cultural structures that run constant for the survivors; such as the pantheon or philosophy that people in one land follow, or the Trollkin curse. But often, these threads just set up the next cycle of conflict to come.
War can be heroic and lead to glory, but is always cruel and causes devastation to the land and people.Edit
Heroes are made in war or lead their people to freedom through conflict. But winners push their advantage, either for revenge or for the material rewards. The result is battle casualties. Then the rewards of the conquerer. Then uprisings and extended conflict. Eventually the empire is torn asunder, both by internal enemies and through battles with one or more other major empire(s) that are too large to conquer.
Embracing materialism at the expense of spirit will lead to disaster, but does grant power until that time.Edit
Emperors and Kings always seem to take their position and extend their power. When this is done for the community, things are in balance, but when this comes at the expense of others, or is for power's sake itself, the mighty build themselves up for a mighty fall.
The lives and lifestyles of the populace depend on community, sacrifice, family and/or clan and fitting into your role and position in your culture.Edit
Individuals, families and clans are the basic units of society. Players have backgrounds that connect them to these building blocks and grant them specific skills. Cultures have expectations (and rewards) for members that require them to fit within defined roles and support your community. Where you come from colors your expectations and the way you see the world and unless you abandon your community, you are expected to make sacrifices of time, money or effort to return the support that the community offers you.
The sweep of history depends on greed, aggression, pride and the need of your people over the needs of other people.Edit
Each empire eventually encounters another empire that cannot be conquered. So far, the cycle of history has never allowed these great neighbors to live in peace. Over the centuries, pride and ambition have always driven the leads of one of these empires to make the attempt anyway. And usually, that empire returns the favor with counter-attempts that lead to a great war.
This has alway resulted in the destruction of both empires, and many lands beyond as well.