Wednesday, 19 December 2007

The Ducks of Caladraland, Part the First

With all the discussion on ducks, and perhaps thoughts of expanding upon the notion of ducks in Maniria-exclusive-of-Dragon Pass, I thought I'd throw in... well, not counter-theories as Keith might have jokingly asked for, but alternative viewpoints that go a little way toward noting why I like the idea of 'mythic pluralism' among ducks, which, like many of the Elder Races, tend otheriwse toward more singular concepts in many people's thoughts.

Inspired by references to ducks in the coastal regions of Maniria-exclusive-of-Dragon Pass, I started investigating the possibilities of duck communities in the Holy Country, particularly in Caladraland. After nearly three years of extensive field-trips and research, my investigations are almost complete.

For many fans, especially from the RQ days, I know that the issue of ducks is pretty indistinguishable from that of their cultural trappings (as has occasionally come out in this discussion). As a relative newcomer to Glorantha, I began my researches when the Monomyth had largely gone the way of shoulder pads, puffball skirts and Plastic Bertrand, and mythic variety was parading around like some Young Turk.

I tried to see how the motif of the duck could be applied in other myth-cultures. I could have portrayed the Caladran duck tribe (and there is but one tribe, in the east at least) as an enclave of Storm worshippers, holding out against the evil human hotheads who wanted to sacrifice them to the volcano, but volcano-worshipping ducks was simply too tempting.

In creating them I was less concerned with a group that fitted in with all the -- well, purposefully hazy, indistinct, speculative and varied --stories as to duck origin, and tried to get something that worked on its own level first. Naturally, their whole mythic outlook was going to be a wee bit different from those kin of the Creek-Stream River.

Their closeness to Fire, combined with a quarrelsome nature that Anaxial's Roster and HeroQuest at least have intimated (in addition to Gloranthanpop-culture), led me towards the Fallen Master-Race thesis (Elder Secrets) and the Ganderland concept was thus ideal. While I didn't want to tie them in wholesale with the keets of Vithela, I liked the idea of 'nesting' hints and vague links that could enrichen the myth.

For their own security, and as a function of the environment in which they live, the Caladran ducks are somewhat sheltered, and live a largely isolationist existence. This provides a myth-culture that is somewhat... truculent... not a little presumptuous, self-affirming of existing principles and can come across as quite strange to some outsiders.

Though fowl (behave), similar to the durulz of Dragon Pass and opposed to certain keets, their breeds are a touch different. Their associations with Water are also somewhat distinct from their Dragon Pass kin -- rather than the riverine and marshland associations, they dwell amid brackish and marine inlets, hydrothermal springs and the freshwater crater and caldera lakes(their major settlement is sited in one of these lakes).

Although the Caladran durulz are what we might technically call volcano-worshippers, there is the issue that the ducks don't actually control the Vent -- not only is waddling up one of the three great Dragon Mountains of Glorantha as a three to four-foot-tall anthropmorphic duck abit of a chore, but there is the added downer that the human tribes displayed a tendency to kill and sacrifice them at every opportunity.

The Caladran ducks are thus divorced from the principal Innerworld element of their paradigm. This is reflected in their myth: the Vent conforms to the Trickster figure in their pantheon, a mountain that is unwittingly worshipped by the human tribes, but is really the child of their own volcanic entity, who was (pace the myths of the trolls and various human tribes) imprisoned by the perfidies of other races.

Since I first researched this breed, they have changed a fair bit, vacillating between the humorous and the serious, the 'never intended for public consumption' and 'I might be able to get people to swallow this'. Now I think they're beginning to get there, whever 'there' is.

(Originally posted on the Glorantha Digest, 4 February 2006.)