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Back in May 2000, a poster to the Glorantha Digest wrote:

I like the Lunars. I think that they are, fundamentally, the good guys. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Reaching Moon Megacorp material seems to assume that the Lunars, while they may be rather sympathetic, are ultimately the villains of Glorantha.

This was my reply:

Speaking for myself, I like the Lunar Way. I think that it is the most optimistic religion in Glorantha. It offers a genuine hope of rebirth to the world.

I view the relationship between the Lunar Way and the Lunar Empire as similar to that between Marxism and the Soviet Union, or primitive Christianity and the Vatican State, or "Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite" and Robespierre's Committee for Public Safety. Mundane reality inevitably betrays the pure idealism: even if it doesn't intend to, and especially if villainous characters are involved. After all, who'd want to game in a "perfect" world? This friction between the mythic and the material generates many plots and motivations.

I believe that many Lunars are good and pious and wonderful idealistic people. Others, however, are despicable, amoral, selfish opportunists. And still others are insane, or chaos-tainted, or illuminated beyond humanity. (I enjoy writing and playing all sorts in freeform games).

Remember: the Lunar Empire employs both Teelo Norri nuns and Danfive Xaron torturers; Fazzur Wideread and Roan-Ur; honourable Yanafali and Char-Un cossack butchers; the Granite Phalanx and the Vampire Legion; illuminated levitating moral teachers and the devouring chaotic obscenity of the Crimson Bat.

I dislike suggestions that everyone in the Empire is "good", or "evil". However, in view of the means it employs, I don't think the Empire itself could ever be considered wholly "good". There is plenty of room for characters like the Coders, who oppose what they see as the "dark side" of their society: campaigns could easily revolve around Watergate- or X-Files-like investigations into corruption and the secretive abuses of power; or White Moonie protesters and reformers trying to bring the Empire back to the path of virtue; or Vietnam POW / "Clear and Present Danger"-style plots involving misuse of the armed forces by corrupt nobles in the Heartlands.

Think of Dominic Flandry, upholding a decadent Empire as the "least worst" option. Or the officers of Babylon 5 looking on aghast as the government they work for descends into Orwellian totalitarianism. The adventures generated by these tensions are in my opinion more satisfactory than the old simplicities of "good barbarians vs. bad Empire" or "good Empire vs. bad barbarians". To make them work, you have to have good Lunars and bad Lunars. Luckily, this isn't a problem for us.

I believe the Empire is fatally compromised (to my non-Illuminated understanding) by the unwholesome and unspeakable things it permits to happen in its name. Thank the Goddess there's more to the Lunar Way than that one manifestation.


Followup to the HeroWars group, 13 August 2002:

Generally speaking, the shortest version of the ongoing history of the Lunar Empire and the Lunar Way goes like this:

a) a good and pious Lunar discovers something marvellous that will make life more wonderful for everybody;

b) the Empire gets their hands on it and puts it to use. This almost certainly involves not making life wonderful for everybody, and quite possibly involves Bad Things happening to the original discoverer.


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