Tales of Mythic Adventure Episode 09 – Nochet and Esrolia

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Weather Report (0:00-2:58)

No snack or beverage update from the guys this week, but Jeff reports that Berlin is exciting, glamorous and very wet. Rob responds that Melbourne is exactly the same as Berlin, except for the glamorous and exciting parts. MOB uses the discussion on the weather to artfully segue into the importance of weather in wordbuilding, especially the necessity of having more than one or two possible weather patterns per world (George Lucas cough cough…)

The Bulging Lozenge that is Glorantha (2:59-5:21)

There is a quick physical description of Glorantha – a bulging lozenge floating in the primal ocean, covered by the sky dome, with the sun traversing the dome each day before returning to the underworld. Jeff goes into some detail about how this physical idea of the world’s form was very common across many Bronze Age societies. So much so that recent guest Dr Christina Reich gave a presentation at this year’s Eternalcon on “Sun Cults of the Bronze Age”. It is agreed that this is an excellent name for a band, and that they could all wear the meter-tall pointy golden hats that Christina described in Episode 8. Like a precious metal version of Devo, MOB suggests.

Nochet, City of Much Exposition (5:22-27:24)

Jeff and MOB have recently been developing the previously sketchy details of Nochet (with Harold Smith and Kalin Kadiev). The folklore of the naming of the city is as follows. Greg Stafford needed a big city on the southern coast, and somebody asked him if he had a name for it. He said ‘Not Yet’, and with a quick mispronunciation, the rest is history. Until now there has not been a lot of development of this city, which is a shame, because it is the biggest city in Glorantha (over 120,000 people) and the centre of much Gloranthan trade. It’s also an ancient city, the capitol of Esrolia, and a matriarchy. In recent months Jeff, MOB & co have been creating as much detail for Nochet as there is for New Pavis, a much smaller city of only 5000 people.

MOB remarks that there was such little detail to go on about Nochet that when he was writing an Esrolian scenario for the Western Special of Tales of the Reaching Moon, he had made the main characters Westerners.

The recent development started with some material developed by Jeff and Greg Stafford, in the publication Esrolia: Land of 10,000 Goddesses. In the Second Age Nochet declined to a city of only a few thousand people. For developing the contemporary city, the main temple sites remain the same, but with the rest of the setting there’s a free hand to develop as desired. Having temples remain constant is just it as happens in the real world, even though the religions based there might change (for example, Christian churches are on the sites of old Pagan temples). Jeff makes the point that this is even more the case in Glorantha, as temple sites tend to be on places of magical significance.

After retaining all of the temple sites, the rest of the population has been broken down into the various neighbourhoods, noble houses and foreign enclaves. Because Nochet is so large, it is actually the largest Sartarite city in Glorantha. There’s also a Kralorelan neighbourhood of a thousand people, as well as Fonritian, Ralian and Ezrolvuli suburbs, including a street where there is a large phallus dance.

Rob the Producer asks if the dance is big, or the phallus, and of course gets the answer – “both!” Jeff explains that the inclusion of Ithyphallic cults (the technical term) both fitted the setting and also was a more accurate representation of real Bronze Age societies, which tend to be censored to a certain extent in modern museums, although Jeff points out that the Altes museum on Museum Island in Berlin has an R-rated room of Roman antiquities, including tintinnabulum (phallus wind chimes.)

The city building process also includes provision of a previously not required level of urban infrastructure. How does a city of 100k people gets its drinking water (canals and aqueducts!), and how is waste removed (sewers!) All of this of course, will be perfect for urban campaigns. From the Queen’s palace and the central temples, to the scheming noble houses, to the poor and gritty urban areas, there will be interesting explorations aplenty. There are even 3000 trolls in Nochet, more than there are in the Big Rubble! The hope is that Nochet will become a wonderful default for campaigns, and the docks of Nochet will allow quick transition to Dragon Pass and the rest of the Gloranthan world. This has required epic amounts of generation, and the exposition cranes have been kept busy constructing great towers of backstory. Scenarios are also being written about the Holy Country, with stories that take place in each of the six provinces.

Deep Fried at Red Globster: The Story of Casino Town (27:25-47:51)

MOB points out that Casino Town has been one of the most enigmatic Gloranthan locations, ever since the Runequest Companion came out in the 1980’s, with Casino Town marked on one of the maps. He says that developing this location has been tricky as there were not, technically speaking, casinos in the Bronze Age. On the other hand, he felt that some level of Vegas parody would be expected, and indeed required by the setting, though the location is actually based on a circular Iranian caravanserai.

The trick was not to descend too far into parody, and MOB has gone to immense effort to not make the setting feel too out of place. MOB has also developed the background of the people of God Forgot, who are called the Ingareens. They claimed that their deity had been killed in God’s War (hence the name) and followed as much as they could the Brithini way of life. They gradually developed into two loosely-related groups, one less orthodox (the Esrovuli) and one devout (the Ingareens).

There are therefore two related magic-using groups, living in proximity. This is patterned somewhat after the comparison between the ascetic Essene Orthodox Jews and the Hellenistic Jews of the late BC-early AD period. It is however the Ingareens who oversee Casino Town, as they have the get out clause, “It’s not gambling if you always end up ahead”.

Once the setting was developed, the question arose as to what the major purpose of Casino Town is. The main purpose is not in fact gambling for money, although a lot of that goes on, but gambling for power. The Faro wheel is rumoured to have both prophetic and magical properties, which meant that heroes and demigods were lured there to increase their powers. The Ingareens’ great scheme fell down however when Belintar famously broke the bank at Casino Town, winning magical resources allowing him to conquer the rest of the Holy Country. This is a place where the Wheel of Fortune means exactly what is says.

With Belintar’s breaking of the bank it became ever more important for the Ruler of God Forgot to get regular punters in to gamble coins, as this is the only way that they can pay down the debt. Various war-based disasters have impacted on the fortunes of Casino Town, and a visit from Harrek the Berserk did not help matters. A portion of the city was razed, and the Vadeli came along and started their own gambling establishment (one of the few places in Casino Town where gambling is done with cards). Other forms of gambling including gambling sticks, a very weird form of gambling that also goes in here in the real world.

Like the real Vegas, many of the establishments in Casino Town use illusion and misdirection to fleece the punters. There is also a restaurant called Red Globster, a cheap and popular “all you can eat” buffet (provided you’re happy eating endless portions of vaguely fish-like material cut into various shapes then deep-fried or boiled). The proprietor “Red” hearkens from the Lunar Empire, and keeps a live walktapus out the back. Pieces are continuously hacked off for the pot (yum…).

Mapping Nochet (47:51-52:12)

The Holy Country development has been very productive. There are now 43 pages of Nochet locations developed, including one of the best environmental maps ever developed for Glorantha (by Harald Smith). Starting with a crude sketch by Jeff, the map is immense and amazingly detailed, showing the location of every noble house, temple, aqueduct, dock, wall and even the stairs leading down to the waterfront. Casino Town will also supply a great travel destination for adventurers looking to get rid of some of their ill-gotten Loot.

MGF Questions Rob the Producer (52:12-1:04)

Before being asked the MGF question, Rob has to know how the tintinnabulum is depicted, as in, were they vertical or horizontal? The answer is horizontal, but quite what noise the phallus wind-chimes make is not discussed.

Q: Better than the average gamer

A: Rob is first to the snacks and first to the fighting.

Q: Worse than the average gamer

A: Rob would rather fight and feed than plan.

Q: One thing everybody knows about Robert

A: He is the brother of Penelope Love, and the brother in law of Mark Morrison, who between them were part of the writing team for the Call of Cthulhu classic “Horror on the Orient Express”, among many other RPG releases.

Q: One thing nobody knows about Robert

A: Given the recent sad news of the death of Sir Christopher Lee, Rob shares that he once spoke to him on the telephone, when Christopher Lee had called asking to speak to Robert’s father. Rob’s dad, Prof Harold Love, had written a book about Australian opera in the nineteenth century, and one of Christopher Lee’s ancestors was featured in it, so he graciously launched the book.

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