Excerpt – Hero Wars, Introduction (2000)

Welcome to the Hero Wars

The World is Ending

The Hero Wars mark the end of Glorantha. Or at least, the End of the World as we Know it. Monstrous dangers have risen, Great Causes have been born, and the gods have woken. Cataclysms like this have occurred before. Everyone knows it. The only real questions is, “What will you do about it?”

Your Part

You will make your own part. All heroes are extraordinary and destined at least for moderate and temporary fame in the world of heroes. This is guaranteed since they are individually guided by a Higher Power: you, the player. 

We assume that some hero characters will be involved in the Great Events of the Hero Wars like raising the Jarn Dragon, the Bejeweled Invasion of the East Isles, and the War Against War. Such events are not just for the super powerful, but will require the participation of your hero character, whatever magnitude of power he happens to be at. Your hero is not expected to become a god, though he could. We expect player heroes to be significant forces in their campaigns, and perhaps important enough to be the Argrath in Sartar or the Conciliator in Fronela. 

It is up to you and your narrator.

The World

Glorantha conforms to the mysterious laws of myth rather than the reliable, repeatable laws of science. Glorantha is not a globe. It is a huge cube of earth floating on an infinite sea, with one surface partially exposed above water. In its center is a gigantic whirlpool that sucks all the waters of the world into it. The sky above is a dome housing the sun, moon, and stars. Atop that dome is the Sky World where gods live. Below the world is the Underworld, a place of monsters and other deities. 

Around the edges of the world, where the immortal seas wash upon the immortal earth, and where the limitless sky gingerly contacts the Underworld, are regions where gods live with their many demigod children. In the center is the Human World. The Human World
The human world is called the Inner World, inhabited by mortal beings. It is about 6000 miles long on each of its four sides. It consists of two large continents and a number of islands. 

Genertela, where Dragon Pass is, is the northern and more populous continent. It occupies a land mass about the size of the continental United States. Its climate is mostly temperate, although its extremes range from arctic tundra to desert wastes. The southern continent of Pamaltela is about as big as Genertela. Its climate is tropical.

At First
Long ago, before Creation, four separate worlds existed. Each was blissful and perfect on its own, but for uncertain reasons the four worlds crashed violently together. That was the Gods War, a cosmic conflict which made the modern world of Glorantha. The human world is where the four worlds overlap, a shared space which has four different ways to do magic. 

All cultures of Glorantha practice magic. Even though four mutually contradictory explanations for the origins of their magic exist, it all seems to work. The existence and efficacy of magic is not in doubt; everyone can see its effects on the world. 

Some magicians gain power from the gods they worship. Others bargain with spirits to gain supernatural powers. Still others practice sorcery, which applies a logical world-view to arrive at time-tested methods of manipulating magical energy. Then there are the mystics, who pursue the inner magic of personal enlightenment.

The Hero Wars Begin in Dragon Pass

Dragon Pass is the fuse of Glorantha. From it have burst many of the cataclysms which ripped the world apart before. 

Dragon Pass is about 90,000 square miles in area, in the middle of the northern continent of Genertela, close to its southern coast. 

About 500 years ago dragons exterminated all human life in Dragon Pass. About 250 years ago humans moved back in. They crowded out the Elder Races, who retreated to strongholds, where they’ve grown angry after centuries of abuse. 

About 20 years ago the Lunar Empire of the north invaded and conquered the natives of Dragon Pass, and have worked since then to exterminate their god, Orlanth, as well. The Rebels have resisted with blades and blood. 

Rebels and Empire

The explosion of the Hero Wars starts with the conflict between the barbarian rebels of Sartar and the occupying empire of Dara Happa, called the Lunar Empire. 

The rebels, called Heortlings, worship the great god Orlanth and his wife, Ernalda. They are tribal and fiercely independent, and resentful that the empire has invaded their homelands to destroy their god. They have suffered invasion, conquest and many savage suppressions since the Empire invaded, but are still undefeated in spirit and effort. A new generation of warriors is of age now, ready to throw their lives into the Hero Wars. 

The Empire, meanwhile, strives to bring its peaceful rule to the wild and unreasonable barbarians. They are an urban and sophisticated culture, worshipping Sedenya, the Red Moon Goddess, and the celestial family of Yelm, Emperor and Sun God. For centuries they were invaded by barbarians, but about three centuries ago the Lunar Goddess came to the world and reorganized the ancient empire. She tamed its ancient brutality, loosed its social rigidity, and freed women and many of the underclass to have opportunity and recognition in the world. The Empire is inclusive and enclosing, willing to encompass anyone who will simply accept Sedenya. Orlanth refuses that simple thing, and so is a foe.

Furthermore, another power is present nearby. The Seshnegi, a western power whose people are moving towards Dragon Pass, have entrenched themselves here too. They are neither Empire nor barbarian, and even more strange yet. They worship a single God who gives them terribly effective powers of sorcery. Small in numbers so far, they might be helpful to barbarian or empire, but only for a short time. Indeed, everyone fears them because they so despise all other gods but their own, and also have armies nearby. And everyone fears the powers of the East, where the draconic Kralori Empire sits, coiled upon itself and watching events in the mythic land of Dragon Pass.

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