Glorantha is a flat world surmounted by a Sky Dome. The Sky Dome itself tilts back and forth, north and south, each year. The Sun’s height in the sky also changes throughout the year. It is highest in the sky (and brightest) in Fire Season, lowest in the sky (and dullest) in Dark Season. These effects can and have been measured. Nick Brooke’s charts in his Gloranthan Manifesto (volume one) are really useful for understanding this. One of the weirdest effects of this is in Pamaltela, where the God Learners observed that in the north the seasons were roughly the same as in Genertela, but heading further south into Jolar, it actually got warmer in Dark Season the further south you got. They theorized that due to the tilt of the Sky Dome in Dark Season, the celestial heat spilled out onto the Sea of Fire beyond the Nargan Desert, warming the south.The movement of the stars and planets are carefully observed by many Gloranthan cultures. Interestingly, the Sunpath planets do not have retrograde movement, apparent or real, as they move along the Sunpath. However, the Southpath planets do move erratically. Shargash is perhaps the worst, speeding up and slowing down depending on the length of its path, although regardless of path taken, it always takes two weeks to go across the Sky Dome. (See the Guide to Glorantha for more details).This stuff is all observable and measurable. Although there is a distance beyond which things cannot be seen (varying on the size of the object) with powerful enough magic this can be overcome. For example, atop the Footstool of Yelm in Raibanth it is said that the Emperor can see anything in the Middle World. And there are tales that during the Broken Council, watchers sat atop the Tower in Dorastor and watched for the movements of their enemies in Dragon Pass and even Seshnela.
So even though at a superficial level, things are similar to how we imagine things in our world, at a more detailed level, our models don’t always hold up. Humans can sometimes breed with plants. A dead body can be sung back together and her spirit returned. A giant round Red Moon can just hover in the Middle Air and slowly spin from black to red and back to black again.
A few other interesting observations – there have been people have gone up to the highest mountains, or flown even above them, or even to the Red Moon and seen the shape of the world. It is always described as flat by eye witnesses- no curve there!
The God Learners determined that the surface of the Earth is square, approximately 8000 kilometers on each side. It is divided into two continents, and countless islands. Here people live, learn, and die, and either earn their transfer to further realms or re-enter the cycles of Nature. Upon the borders lie magical lands, and beyond those lie the void, terrors, and the evil of Chaos.
- Yelm has been witnessed coming through the gates of dawn and setting through the gates of dusk. There have been heroes of the East Isles who have sailed all the way to Vithelash to witness the rise of the Sun through the gates, although it meant they could never leave that blessed land. There have been heroes that have traveled across the Western Ocean to follow Yelm’s fiery blood through the gates of dusk. Furthermore, I have an interviewed one of the Luathalens, one of the great purple people who sundered Seshnela, who witnessed Yelm himself passing through that gate.
- North south orientation of these maps is a convenience to us. And it is a publishing convention.
- No. In fact, Glorantha does not have a magnetic field at all. It might have telluric energies, but you’d have to talk to the Mostali about that.
- Polaris is a bright star and full described in the Guide.
The God Learners determined that Magasta’s Pool was the center of the world and the former location of the Spike. Therefore, maps should be centered on the Pool if possible. But being from the West, they often placed West on top. Unless they were Lhankor Mhy, because then they typically placed North on top, as Ernaldela was the blessed land to the north of the Spike and to do so would favour the Earth Goddess.The Kralorelan maps generally ignore everything west of the Twin Dragon Mountains, and look a lot like the famous map from the New Yorker.