[Glorantha] Nysalor, Arkat, and Gbaji...WTF?!?

Brian888

Registered User
Validated User
I understand that Glorantha largely operates from an Obi-Wan perspective of "your point of view", but is Nysalor an evil Chaos god? Is Gbaji? Is Arkat? Is Nysalor actually Gbaji? Is Arkat actually Gbaji? Are they all separate gods? Is Illumination a form of Chaos corruption, or not? Are any of these questions actually answerable?
 

PaulK

I am not a number! I am a
Validated User
To the best of my (somewhat rusty) knowledge.

Nysalor incorporates Chaos, having been born (or reborn) in Time. The Red Goddess is the same in that respect. They may be considered Chaos Gods for that, but they are different from the others that are called Chaos Gods.

Nysalor is not evil as such but has a perspective above, or at least apart from, good and evil. Some of Nysalor’s followers did some really evil things but it’s not required.

The whole Gbaji thing is confused, with Gbaji being considered to be Nysalor, Arkat or even a third entity. There may be an objective answer - or not - but I don’t think I know it.

I don’t consider Illumination to be Chaos corruption - it is quite possible to be Illuminated and resist Chaos. It can even help Chaos creatures become less destructive. The Illuminated see that Chaos has a place in the Cosmos, and don’t hate and fear it in the way some others do. They can try to use it - and that can often have terrible consequences (sometimes intended). So it isn’t surprising that people with a strict anti-Chaos view might think of Illumination as Chaos corruption but I don’t think it is quite true even from that perspective.
 

Snoof

Time-Travelling Layabout
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I understand that Glorantha largely operates from an Obi-Wan perspective of "your point of view", but is Nysalor an evil Chaos god? Is Gbaji? Is Arkat? Is Nysalor actually Gbaji? Is Arkat actually Gbaji? Are they all separate gods? Is Illumination a form of Chaos corruption, or not? Are any of these questions actually answerable?
The simplest explanation is: the name Gbaji is used by both sides of the conflict as a slur for the entity/god/being on the other side of the conflict. Whether or not that's actually true is possibly unanswerable.

Also there's the Durulz point of view.
 

Troy Swain

Registered User
Validated User
As it kid Nysalor / Arkat / Gbaj was one of my favorite things about the Glorantha setting! It had never occurred to junior-high me that the same deity could have three wildly different takes by three wildly different cultures.

Think of him like Genghis Khan as a godhead: the Turks claim him as their own. The Mongolians know he's there own. And the Russians, Chinese, and Arabs freaking hate him, and all three of those societies have different names and stories about him. And all of them have different names for the same guy.

Three opposing cultures have three opposing viewpoints and names for a god based on the same historical figure.
 

Unski

Registered User
Validated User
About a year ago this same issue came up in HeroQuest. To resolve the matter in-game, the players depart on a mystical quest to find out the truth as they were troubled by the dualistic nature of Illumination and the legends around Nysalor and Gbaji. By the end of it they each take on the role of one of the three persons Nysalor could be and we made a single roll. Turns out that Nysalor was indeed Gbaji and the brave Orlanthi had unknowingly been harboring Chaos worshipers in their tula. Much woe, crying and righteous wrath was had.
 

jbuchert

Registered User
Validated User
Is Illumination a form of Chaos corruption, or not? Are any of these questions actually answerable?
Illumination is certainly not Chaos corruption in itself. It's a mystical insight into the nature of the universe - a return of the Many-to-One. Part of it is that it does help you understand that Chaos is an integral part of the universe, however. According to some this idea in itself is pretty heretical and worth smiting you for as potential Chaos-spawn. That said, because of this perhaps somewhat more accepting view of Chaos, some Illuminated ones may be more inclined to utilize or accept Chaos in their workings. So, smiting the Illuminated as potential Chaos-spawn may in fact be prudent behaviour!

There is also the concept of Occlusion, which is sort of the dark side of Illumination, which leads precisely into that kind of thing as well as other assorted cruelties/injustices. But certainly not all who are Illuminated will be Occluded.

As it kid Nysalor / Arkat / Gbaj was one of my favorite things about the Glorantha setting! It had never occurred to junior-high me that the same deity could have three wildly different takes by three wildly different cultures.

Think of him like Genghis Khan as a godhead: the Turks claim him as their own. The Mongolians know he's there own. And the Russians, Chinese, and Arabs freaking hate him, and all three of those societies have different names and stories about him. And all of them have different names for the same guy.

Three opposing cultures have three opposing viewpoints and names for a god based on the same historical figure.
Nysalor and Arkat were definitely distinct folks, though. Both of them were called Gbaji by the opposing side.

I've also heard the speculation that the person who emerged from the climactic battle was not in fact Arkat, but Nysalor-as-Arkat. Whether it was actually Nysalor-as-Gbaji masquerading as Arkat, or an Arkat who had come close to Nysalorian insights, thus Arkat-as-Gbaji, is a thought worth pondering. It's just speculation, though.

Arkat opposed Nysalor because his followers did some nasty business in his name, so he figured Nysalor was going down a bad path (Gbaji) and was worth putting down. As he fought Nysalor, he ended up doing some pretty bad stuff himself (Gbaji). Both were Illuminated, but it is at least worth considering if they were Occluded towards the end (and whether being Occluded or not can ever be anything but an opinion). So, in that sense, they may have ended up as being pretty much the same, if they both had sacrificed their lofty principles to become Gbaji.

I think that is easily the fate of the Illuminated if they get too mixed up in wordly things. Most Illuminated will just retire from society and contemplate the mysteries of the One, but Nysalor and Arkat were knee-deep in the affairs of the Many. Can their wisdom prevail in the travails of the real world, with its politics, wars, etc? The Lunars are facing these same quandaries in the Third Age. I think it's a splendid story at the very least, even if we're left with more ultimate questions than ultimate answers. And you can play to find out!

Hope that is at least a little less confusing.
 
Last edited:

Snoof

Time-Travelling Layabout
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Both were Illuminated
Was Arkat Illuminated? I know he was big on the cult-hopping approach (Malkioni to Humakt to Zorak Zoran) and experiencing the same Godtime events through different viewpoints allowed him to make a sort of mythological synthesis which was later on picked up by the God Learners, but was this actually a form of Illumination? Were the God Learners then Illuminated? Or was his Illumination from some other source?
 

SetentaeBolg

Registered User
Validated User
Was Arkat Illuminated? I know he was big on the cult-hopping approach (Malkioni to Humakt to Zorak Zoran) and experiencing the same Godtime events through different viewpoints allowed him to make a sort of mythological synthesis which was later on picked up by the God Learners, but was this actually a form of Illumination? Were the God Learners then Illuminated? Or was his Illumination from some other source?
Arkat pretty much has to be Illuminated to not be torn apart by the spirits of all the cults he betrayed. Part of being Illuminated is that the gods cannot see you, you are immune to their retribution (I mean, not entirely, of course).

As for the God Learners, no-one knows, of course: they all died and not a single reliable record of their existence remains. Personally, I'd suggest that high ranking God Learners probably were Illuminated. Seeking out blasphemous knowledge and treating it blasphemously is kind of their whole purpose, after all.
 

jbuchert

Registered User
Validated User
Was Arkat Illuminated? I know he was big on the cult-hopping approach (Malkioni to Humakt to Zorak Zoran) and experiencing the same Godtime events through different viewpoints allowed him to make a sort of mythological synthesis which was later on picked up by the God Learners, but was this actually a form of Illumination? Were the God Learners then Illuminated? Or was his Illumination from some other source?
I think those are good and fair questions - but I've always understood that he was indeed Illuminated.

As an aside, I just realized that my (very old) signature feels oddly relevant to this thread. The musing in it sounds very much like something an Illuminated person might say as they slip towards a more Occluded state! It could very be well either Nysalor or Arkat saying that towards the end of their journey.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom