Author:  Richard STAATS at LMI
Date:    5/2/95  10:03 AM
Priority: Normal
Receipt Requested
Subject: Turn 5 [Part I]
------------------------------- Message Contents -------------------------------
Greetings!

        Here is the second installment of my conversation with Rich.

Q:  Just what are those runes, anyway?  Since Phineas made the Good Rune, I
thought he might have some insights.

A:  Well, the Runes are symbolic expressions of how Zhalindor operates. 
Some Runes--those which were first created--are more fundamental than
others.  For example, if the Man Rune were destroyed, all the intelligent
races in Zhalindor (except the dragonnewts) would disappear, but the world
would operate in roughly the same way.  Thus, the Man Rune is not a
fundamental Rune.  
        If the Earth Rune were destroyed, however, the world would dissolve
into floating blobs of air, water, and fire, making it unrecognizable as
Zhalindor.  If the Mastery Rune were destroyed, Zhalindor (and possibly all
of the other universes containing copies of the Mastery Rune--i.e., the
whole cosmos) would cease to exist.  Thus, the Earth and Mastery Runes are
fundamental Runes.
        Other fundamental Runes include the rest of the elemental Runes and
the opposed pairs (Movement/Stasis).  Other ancillary Runes include the
ethos Runes (Good/Evil, Law/Chaos).
        
Q:  Yeah, okay.  So how would you go about making one?

A: Well, to make a Rune, you must have the Infinity Rune plus whatever
Runes that you intend to incorporate into your new construct.  When Phineas
made the Good Rune, he included the Infinity, Magic, Fertility, Truth, and
Law Runes.
        After he borrowed these Runes from their holders on Zhalindor, he
Heroquested with them to the Nexus of Worlds.  He went back in time to meet
the original holders of the Runes on the Hero Plane.  There, he performed a
quest for each Rune, directed against the opposing Rune (if any existed). 
For the Law Rune, he killed a great Chaos beast.  For Fertility, he
unblighted part of the Aldraymi forest, which had been struck by Humakt. 
For Truth, he had to rediscover one of the fundamental truths of the
universe--the name of one of the gods killed by the Death Rune--by tricking
the Trickster God into revealing it.  For Magic, he had to find a piece of
knowledge about how to meld the Runes in the Book of Infinite Spells.  And
for Infinity, he had to recite the proper formula to forge the Runes into
the Good Rune.

Q:  I'm a bit hazy on that last quest, Rich.  Could you explain it a little
more clearly?

A:  Actually, no. Phineas himself doesn't remember all the details, and I
haven't had the same sort of experience.  It's rather like being
Illuminated (in the Lunar cult), except it's not vile.  An analogy would be
the way Rutherford felt when he devised the nuclear model of the atom. 
Rutherford didn't invent nuclei; he just discovered them.  However, he did
provide a set of symbols by which others could understand the nucleus. 
Similarly, when Phineas made the Good Rune, he realized that it had always
existed.  He had only created a symbolic locus for the power of Good.

Q:  But a Rune (like the Good Rune) also has power to affect what it
symbolizes.  Doesn't the analogy break down?  It's more like if Rutherford
made a little model of the nucleus that gave him power to control all
nuclei.

A:  Yes.  The Runes are more than symbols; they also are a means of
invoking what they represent.  They focus knowledge and power to control
the physical world. 

Q:  What about the Lunar Rune?

A:  Well, the Red Goddess did the same sort of thing that Phineas did. 
However, instead of picking nice runes like Law, she carried the Runes of
Infinity, Illusion, Truth, Fertility, Earth, Death, and Chaos.
    By the way, that Red Goddess was pretty clever.  Think about where she
centered her empire--the Control Complex of the World Machine.

Q:  (after some derogatory comments about the Lunars) What about the World
Machine?  Is it a symbolic construct, too?

A:  Yes...depending on the race to whom you talk.  To the dwarves, who
constructed the world for the Invisible God, the World Machine is a
physical object.  To the elves, the first sorcerors, the World Machine is a
metaphysical system, a set of magical symbols that mortals can manipulate.

Q:  So the dwarves are a hardware people, but the elves are a software people?

A:  You could say that.  By the way, if the World Machine were dismantled
again, you might get a different set of runes.  Instead of four opposing
pairs, you might get three--or five.  The Staff of Seven Parts could have a
different number of pieces.  It depends on how the Sundering takes place. 
You're starting to realize that the Machine was not taken apart carelessly.
 It may have been done hurriedly, but those who dismantled it understood
what they were doing.

Q:  Now that the Machine is put back together, do the Runes still have
physical form?  In the history, we saw Cragspider and the blue-robed man
assign runes to the original holders.  But the Machine was still working
then.

A:  Just because they assume a physical form doesn't mean that they are
part of the world. (??? An error in my notes?)  Anyone could access the
Runes, but they were assigned to the supervision of the original holders.

Q:  So if anyone could access the runes, was the story of Lichtadon
stealing the Runes from the Invisible God just symbolic?

A:  Yes.  Remember all those kingdoms that appeared by the Circles of Stone
and then vanished?  Anyone could access the Runes, but few knew how to use
them.  What Lichtadon stole was the knowledge necessary to use the Runes,
probably the Codex.
        Actually, Lichtadon and Eldar really weren't such nasty guys. 
Think of Lichtadon like Prometheus, eager to use his power for good but too
proud to heed the words of his superiors.  Eldar was like Loki--he just
wanted to stir things up and have fun.  But they were a dangerous
combination.  Before they cast the spell that summoned the Void, they
probably looked at each other and said, "What's the worst thing that will
happen?  The Invisible God will get really angry at us and make us do
pushups for five hundred years or so."  Of course, they had no idea what
the worst thing really was....

 
       Well, that's about all for this installment, but I'll leave you with
one thing to ponder.  Our characters know diddeley-squat about using the
Runes, and we can do a lot of things with them.  Imagine how much power
Cragspider can access....

                                        Sincerely,

                                        Eric