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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Musings after reading World of Gor and Tales of Gor

I have nothing but good words about the World of Gor. It is an almost invaluable* the world-setting as presented in the novels. Period. No objections on it.
I have, so far (I haven't read it to the end, but I'm close) one objection on Tales of Gor. (As an aside, do you know how often I have that few objections? It's an amazing feat that Desborough's book only provokes that few objections from me).

What is that one thing that I disagree with?
"Only the Panni** have systematized unarmed combat. The rest of Goreans rely on (natural ability)". I might be paraphrasing it slightly.
But this contradicts the books - in many, many places.
First, it is known that even peasants practice wrestling. Wrestling is always the first systematized style to emerge wherever humans live, but rarely remains the only one, unless the practitioners wear heavy armour (not the case on Gor). And given how many empty-handed styles have evolved from the use of weapons, it just makes no sense to me.

Second, the fighting slaves are mentioned to be "the real masters of unarmed combat" on Gor. Who trains them? (Hint: probably warriors, if they're lucky). And I can't believe the Caste of Assassins would have overlooked the use of such techniques to quickly subdue and kill a target that's hard to reach with weapons - say, a rich Merchant.

Third, Tarl and others repeatedly show quite high levels of mastery of the unarmed combat in the series. Here's an example I found in Magicians of Gor.
"I seized one of the lads by the wrist and, drawing him quickly across and about my body, and over my extended right leg, flung him to the stones, where I held him, my grip shifted now to the palm of his hand, his wrist bent, far back. He screamed with pain. Another fraction of a hort, the least additional pressure, and his wrist would be broken."
That's a move that's well-known to everybody who has ever trained in martial arts. But I don't remember Tarl having been a fighting slave - and anyway, he was doing such moves after the first time he was on Gor, while exiled on Earth.
Another example is at the end of the books where an Earthman brought to Gor obtains freedom (after being a Fighting Slave...sorry for not digging the exact title, but I can guess it was Something of Gor).
There's a moment when a group discusses killing a man empty-handed. One of the men gathered says something like "maybe, but only if you're very strong".
An Warrior corrects him: "It doesn't require strength, just skill".
The former Fighting Slave merely nods and confirms.

Thus, I'd conjecture that unarmed combat should be an option for both Warriors and Peasants, not to mention Assassins (and former Fighting Slaves). Though of course, weapon skills should be higher and more valuable - but one can hope the fighting system itself would take care of that!

That aside, I admit I'm tempted to produce a table for Gorean Chess. It sure seems to have...unexpected possibilities!


*Well, technically, I know exactly how much it's worth - just check the price on Drivethru;). But if you plan to run this game, you really want the setting book.
**Japanese transplanted on Gor.

Monday, 8 May 2017

The story of my Exaltation

That's about my current character, the Patrician of the Realm (in Exalteds's...
Last session he got Exalted. As the GM put it, "you can't get any better as Solar material than that" (Solars are Exalted by the head of the setting's pantheon, the most powerful god of them all - and are thus the most powerful Exalted. She thinks they're also the most arrogant...which I wouldn't dispute).
How did I prove myself arrogant enough to get Exalted (after quite a few sessions of play)? By negotiating, believe it or not!

It was a good negotiation with Fair Folk. These are, in Exalted, the kind of "fairies" you see in old tales - the kind that come, charm you, steal your soul, and age your body beyond repair;).
Then they make a tale about it, because Fair Folk are creatures of tales.
Now, one you have a picture of the Fair Folk in mind, imagine meeting old, powerful Fair Folks which were powerful enough that decades ago to have captured a Lunar Exalt, chosen by the second greatest goddess out there. (How did I know that? Well, that's the Lunar that had accompanied me to that place, as she had volunteered to guard me - I'm starting to think she's developing a thing for me...)
Imagined those Fair Folk? Good.
Those are the Fair Folk I negotiated with from the position of strength.
Before becoming an Exalted myself - remember, I was still an unproven mortal.
After transgressing on their turf, which - in that area - would grant them "rights" over my soul.
Insolence, you say? It's part of the genre!
Hey, the very reason we were there was totally S&S: my mentor in sorcerous arts sent me to harvest the poison of a ancient god-snake as big as several houses. We were in the process - the god-snake didn't mind, as nothing less than a deer counted as worthy of his menu, and he likes when people use his poison to make medicine - when the Fair Folk came.

Thing is...in this place, the mortals live on the huge trees, hundreds of meters high. The Fair Folk and undead, by ancient contract, don't go up - but anyone who gets down, can be freely feasted upon.
As they put it after appearing at midnight, "by an ancient contract, you're ours - but please amuse us, we're willing to listen to your pleading..."
Me: "Well, I'm rich. I can buy 10 slaves and lower them to you here, or 20 slaves".
"An unscrupulous one? I like that! Let's negotiate."
"...but for 20 slaves, you make a volt-face, leave, and make sure we're not disturbed by anyone else in the next two days and nights".
I was willing to suffer their presence in the vicinity for the next couple of days.
And, as I pointed out to them, they can kill me in unimaginably awful ways, or they can get 10 or 20 other souls to feed on in the same way.
"She alone is worth more than that", they said, pointing to my Lunar companion.
"You don't stand a chance to catch her, anyways."
"We had captured her already. Didn't she tell you?"
"When was that?"
As it turned out, 50 or 60 years ago. The Exalted live for much longer.
My character had been around Exalted (Dragon-Blooded Exalted, but still) his whole life. He just smirked, knowing that in 50 years, an Exalted martial artist, like the Lunar, can go from initiate to master.
"Good luck capturing her again. Anyways, I'm negotiating for myself - she can climb those trees back faster than you can imagine, I've seen it. So, what's your word?"
Basically, I got them to the point where they wanted the slaves, and they wanted me. Decision points...
So the solution of the fair folk lady was to try and seduce me to give them both. With loads of Willpower, I resisted - much to her dismay - though she was tempting, and my character does like seductive women like her.
Of course, I knew she could just decide to take my soul anyway. So my rejection was formulated in the language of stories.
"No, much as you're beautiful...it's still a no. Though it's tempting!"
"Then why don't you come?"
"Ah, but consider what the story would be: I met a beautiful fair folk lady, and we fucked in the forest. Sounds like a young buck vaunting his exploits! Boring! But then, consider instead this story: I came across a beautiful woman of the Fair Folk, seductive as a dream, who wanted me for her bed - but despite me wanting her as well, we could never do that, for the mortals are too different. So we separated, still longing for each other...Now, that's a story! It speaks of wishes unfulfilled, of burning lust and desire left unsatisfied - because of higher reasons. It is a tragedy to the participants, and hints at deeper truths and plot devices at work, and yes, maybe, of a continuation!"
She was instantly sold, and thus the negotiation concluded;).
And when they left, I was feeling great, excited and powerful, while the Lunar almost had to pick her jaw off the grass.
Not the least, because I was shining in gold.
With the colours, and caste mark, of the Swords of the Dawn.
My laughter erupted. I went after the Fair Folk, and used that surge of power, such as I haven't felt since then, to kill the hobgoblins guards of the Fair Folk Nobles, to break off the man's hands and legs, and knock the lady out. I brought them back.
I had noticed the Lunar felt all tense just by seeing them.
"Was any of them displeasing towards you during your captivity, dear?"
"He most certainly was!"
I handed her my knife, handle first.
"Start cutting him. If you cut him too little, I'll finish him off."
She took her time, and he was dead at the end. In the meantime, I bound the woman before she would wake, and spoke with the ancient god about myself.
What was I now?
Was I really the incarnation of an all-powerful sorceror who would destroy my soul, as the Immaculate Monks had taught me?
Should I suicide?
"In all fights, the history is written by the victors, do you not know? The ones that lost are always guilty!"
Of course, being a Patrician, I'd seen that already, first-hand...my Dragon-Blooded Exalted brethren had no qualms about acting like that in front of me.
"Some of them were mad. Others were still kind, and caring", was the ancient god's verdict. "It's up to you what you would become".
In a way, that made it even harder to decide what to do next.