Monasticism in Glorantha

Submitted by GianniVacca on Wed, 18/04/2012 – 15:02

What is the status of monasticism in Glorantha? The (less described) Orient set aside, I do not have the impression that monks are oft mentioned in Gloranthan canon. Now that the canonical West is supposed to be less mediaeval European-like, I gather this tendency will even be on the rise.Unless, of course, I’ve missed something.BTW– since my campaign is set in the Second Age, I welcome information about Imperial Age monasticism.

Submitted by Jeff on Thu, 19/04/2012 – 01:49.

People or communities practicing a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one’s self to spiritual work (a pretty bog-standard definition of monasticism) are very common in Glorantha. The entire wizard caste of the Rokari sect can be considered a monastic order (no landed property, no engagement in any work, celibacy, etc), an effort to reattain the Golden Age perfection of the zzaburi. The Men-of-All are also a sort of monastic order, although a martial-religious order. In the Second Age, many voluntarily adopted this rigorous discipline in order to wield more powerful magic (although Hrestolism does not confine wizards to a single caste and allows other castes to learn wizardry).
Many Genertelan temples have devotees who have committed themselves to a life of simplicity, detachment from worldly pursuits, and the contemplation of their god. The Lunar Empire has throngs of these mystics, attached to a single temple or wandering from place to place.
In the East, several mystical schools require their students renounce the illusionary world in order to approach the Void, or Nothingness, or whatever.
And so on and so on. That beings said, monasticism in Glorantha is more likely to resemble Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, or Manichaean monasticism than high medieval monks.

Editor-in-Chief, Moon Design Publications

Submitted by keith on Sat, 21/04/2012 – 01:22.

There are several mentions of monks in really early materials; for example in the Dragon Pass rules.

Submitted by Jeff on Sat, 21/04/2012 – 01:29.

Yes. Some day I’ll do a little piece about the genesis of that game (I have some of the prototype maps Greg drew, and they would have resulted in a completely different Glorantha if he had adopted them). But by the time of White Bear Red Moon, Glorantha was already over a decade old!Editor-in-Chief, Moon Design Publications

Submitted by GianniVacca on Thu, 19/04/2012 – 02:57.

Thanks Jeff. Some further questions: 1. Who are the Men-of-All? 2. I am adapting a scenario from a vanilla frp game to Second Age Glorantha. What would be the closest possible equivalent to high mediaeval monks? 3. I have used the search engine on with “monks” as the keyword. Amongst the results, one is “God Learner Monks”, w/o any description except Genertela: Genertela Book 69 — which is not of much help because I have the French version of the book with different page numbers. So who are these God Learner Monks?cheersGianni

Submitted by Jeff on Thu, 19/04/2012 – 03:16.

1. The Men-of-All are those Hrestoli devotees who have managed to achieve Unity and encompass all the human castes within themselves. They work, fight, lead, and perform the magical ceremonies that preserve the world. Fools call them “knights” or “chevaliers” because they rode horses and wore the best armor their grateful communities could provide.
2. God Learner monks is a term like “Buddhist monk”, just short-hand. The most powerful Malkioni wizards are those who renounce the distractions of the other castes and devote themselves utterly to spiritual explorations. The God Learners movement original game out of one of these communities, the New Order school, if I recall. There was also the Otherworld Exploration Order. Greg and I used medieval terms as short-hand when we were writing the Middle Sea Empire, always expecting to eventually come up with better titles , since we knew a Malkioni “monastery” or “abbot” wasn’t really anything like a Benedictine monastery but couldn’t expect other people to know what we really meant. Unfortunately, we didn’t get around to in a prompt manner. :DEditor-in-Chief, Moon Design Publications

Submitted by Pastafarian on Fri, 20/04/2012 – 11:34.

Fools call them “knights” Ouch, even red-headed step-children are starting to feel sorry for “The Book of Glorious Joy” 🙂

Submitted by Jeff on Fri, 20/04/2012 – 12:32.

That’s not really fair to Jamie. He based his writings on what Greg had published in Genertela and on the excellent material that the Tales crowd had put together. He didn’t have access to Greg’s notes, or Greg’s old stories about the Gloranthan West.
The fools call them “knights” is not directed towards Jamie or anyone other writer, but towards ignorant barbarians that think they are a martial caste similar to their own warriors.
JeffEditor-in-Chief, Moon Design Publications

Submitted by Pastafarian on Fri, 20/04/2012 – 14:10.

Not in any way a shot at Jamie, just a tongue-in-cheek response to what I thought was a dig at the handful of people like myself who actually liked a medieval area in Glorantha. I purchased and enjoyed “The Book of Glorious Joy”.But it’s the 21st century after all, out with the old and in with the new. I look forward to the Guide and the current West; in my mind at least, the updated “knights” will be six-armed, green-skinned bodhisattvas in classical Khmer armour spouting a melange of neo-Platonic, Kabbalistic and Gnostic philosophy – sounds fun!

Benedictine or Bodhisavatta ?
Submitted by Herve on Sun, 06/05/2012 – 12:29.

Well, I think I’ll keep my seshnegi somewhat carolingians, perhaps “carolingians with rabbi” for the zzaburi feel. I’m not ready yet to give the Knights of Malkion six arms of different colors, each holding a different war banner !
The loskalmi are something else. Them I first liked, but as I delved further I realized how creepily otherworldly the can be. And deep down, at ground level, I’m pretty sure life for the 90% peasant population isn’t that different from Seshnela or even Sartar.
No rabbi for my Loskalm, but budhist monks do feel like a better fit !

Submitted by Daniel Adamov on Sun, 06/05/2012 – 15:16.

Personally I am fond of the Classical or Hellenistic inspirations in the Gloranthan West (in addition to Hindu, Judaic and Medieval European stuff, all of which have their place as influences, I think, or at least as sources of useful analogies). You know, Loskalm as Plato’s Republic, Malkionism and Neo-Platonic monotheism, etc. I actually think the new art direction for Seshnela posted on this site earlier fits with this view well enough as well. I think Western monks would be neither Dharmic nor Christian, but closer to… an alternate history situation where the philosophical schools of Ancient Greece and Rome evolved into monastic orders of a sort. All IMHO, of course. 🙂