2019-10 Jeff on Facebook

Jeff Richard is one of the regular posters in the RuneQuest Facebook Group. here’s some of his recent RuneQuest posts, only Jeff’s replies are included where relevant. Facebook membership is required to access the originals.

As an aside, I often post notes or things that I am working on that I think people will find interesting or useful. But I am posting this material without edits or revisions – they are all notes or works in progress. If people really expect me to edit or revise such ephemera before I post it, I am probably not going to post such things.

Jeff Richard, 2021

Table of Contents

    The Thane of Apple Lane

    So how many campaign have an adventurer as the Thane of Apple Lane? Ours does – in the Chaosium House Campaign, Vasana was given lordship of the hamlet by Queen Leika, although Harmast actually performs most of the work. The adventurers spent much of their time between Apple Lane and Clearwine, until Prince Argrath sent them to be his emissaries in Nochet.

    Our adventurers now have a collection of hides throughout Colymar land and even in Boldhome. They are a prominent noble family – and Harmast is still desperate to become chief of the Ernaldori.

    I heard a story that Prince Argrath once called for the Thane of Apple Lane and a score of people arrived, each bearing witnesses that swore to the deeds they had done in that office.

    Elevations in Dragon Pass and Prax

    Apropos the recent discussion of what Dragon Pass and Prax look like, here’s the elevation of various points on the map:

    • Durengard 50 meters
    • Heartland Plateau 320 meters
    • Hind Foot Range 460 meters
    • Yiskoz Peak 600 meters
    • Listener Peak 650 meters
    • Upland Marsh 700 meters
    • Furthest 750 meters
    • Whitewall 840 meters
    • Clearwine 850 meters
    • Lake Zatern 880
    • Condor Crags 900 meters
    • Shadow Plateau 950 meters
    • Hill of Orlanth Victorious 950 metersJ
    • aldon’s Rest 1000 meters
    • Dragon Pass 1150 meters
    • Six Sisters 1150 meters
    • Skyfall Lake 1152 meters
    • Nikaji Lake 1162
    • Wintertop 1200 meters
    • Xem’s Tower 1200 meters
    • Tada’s High Tumulus 1250 meters
    • Boldhome 1450 meters
    • Lookout Mountains 1600 meters
    • Green Dragon Vale 1645 meters
    • Boulder Hills 1740 meters
    • The Block 2000 meters
    • Cliffhome 2100 meters
    • Wild Mountain 2250 meters
    • Kesten 2350 meters
    • Ezzjuzz Mountain 2350 meters
    • Old Man 2550 meters
    • Darsh Peak 2600 meters
    • Bull Run 2750 meters
    • Sentry Mountain 2850 meters
    • Quivin Peak 2950 meters
    • Stormwalk 3050 meters
    • Arrowmound 4000 meters
    • Little Mountain 4100 meters
    • Doktados 4120 meters
    • Lion Peak 4,300 meters
    • Kero Fin 12,200 meters

    A few points of RW comparison:

    • Queen Anne Hill 139 meters
    • Acrocorinth 575 meters
    • Mount Tamalpais 784 meters
    • Snoqualmie Pass 919 meters
    • Scafell Pike 978 meters
    • Mount Snowdon 1085 meters
    • Mount Diablo 1173 meters
    • Yosemite Valley 1219 meters
    • Ben Nevis 1344 meters
    • Brenner Pass 1370 meters
    • Puy de Dôme 1465 meters
    • Denver 1609 meters
    • Puy de Sancy 1886 meters
    • Lake Tahoe 1897 meters
    • Taos 2124 meters
    • Donner Pass 2151 meters
    • Mount Lassen 3187 meters
    • Mount Baker 3286 meters
    • Aneto 3404 meters
    • Mount Shasta 4322 meters
    • Mount Rainier 4392 meters

    Mount Rainier is about 4026 meters of prominence. Lassen has “only” 1594. And at 12 km, Kero Fin is absurdly huge.

    BTW, Quivin Mountain is almost the same height as Mount Olympus. And probably just as pretty:

    Photo credit Wikimedia CC

    Glorantha has no horizon – but sight is limited by air quality. So effectively there is a point past which you cannot see things.

    Glorantha is a world made by the gods using the patterns formed by the primeval archetypes (the Runes, the Twins, etc.). It is held together by their deeds in the God Time and their Cosmic Compromise. In it, men can fly, trees can grow overnight, there is an impossibly narrow 12 kilometre high spindle of a mountain, there is a floating island and a flying island, different species of animals (and even animals and vegetables, and in a few cases, animals and rocks) can breed, teleportation happens, there is a physical Sky Dome, and the earth is flat.None of these are possible according to our understanding of of physics or genetics or whatever. In my opinion it is a mistake to even try to apply our physical science to explain or define Glorantha. Instead, think about the world our distant ancestors thought they lived in and use their tools and techniques to understand it. Develop your own Gloranthan science!

    Core homelands Map II

    I present to you the full map of the core homelands in three pictures. Next is tweak a few details and then scan and print. To give you an idea of the physical size – that is on top of our expanded dining room table that fits 8 comfortably.

    Core homelands Map I

    Very nearly complete with the set!

    And once again all at the 1 cm = 4 km scale. And here you can clearly see how important Storm Bull is in western Prax and southeastern Sartar. The Block and Stormwalk Mountain are maybe 40 km apart.

    And also it is clear to me I have underestimated how many baboons are in southern Heortland.

    A good visual feel for Prax

    If you want a good feel for Prax, you need go no further than the Great Basin in the US. Prax really is the US Great Basin and Southwest (with elements of Wyoming and South Dakota).

    Photo credit: Wikimedia CC
    Photo credit: Wikimedia CC

    And here’s what I imagine the Dead Place looks like:

    Photo credit: Wikimedia CC
    By Joe Parks from Berkeley, CA – Badwater Basin, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26553985

    Each desert is its own thing. And Prax and the Wastelands are definitely modelled on the Great Basin, the Chihuahuan, Sonoran, and Mojave deserts.

    Whereas Pent is more like the rangeland in Wyoming and Montana:

    By US Department of Agriculture. Sam Cox – http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/feb06/d423-1.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6595877

    For me the Pure Horse People have connections with Scythians, but the Praxians are sui generis. They ride bison, sable antelopes, high llamas, and impalas – they just are too different from any terrestrial people in core details.

    Eastern Sartar and Prax

    A few interesting features here – you can see that Pimper’s Block is in Balkoth tribal lands. Moonbroth is only about 40 km from Swenstown, and the Dead Place itself is only about 50 km away. Imagine the dust storms eastern Sartar gets in Dark Season as the Desert Winds whip across the alkaline flats of the Dead Place.Also I think you can see Tada’s High Tumulus from Boldhome. And the Indigo Mountains are an active volcano chain.

    Another interesting thing to see is that dragon just west of the Dundealos Vale, and the huge chasm of destruction running to the northwest.

    Sartar Map Closeups

    Some close ups of Sartar including one with the tribal overlay.

    How close were the RQ2 Trollpack maps to Greg’s map? Pretty close. A few minor errors here and there (even more in the RQ3 Trollpak map). I am working off the Greg’s original map for Trollpak right now.

    New Maps vs. The Guide to Glorantha

    For those who wonder the difference between this map and the Guide, here’s one of the new maps with the corresponding map I did for the Guide.

    Greg Day Game

    Greg day game was the House RuneQuest campaign. The adventurers (including Vasana, Yanioth, and Harmast) participated in an Earth pilgrimage and saved the Queen of Esrolia from Blue Moon Assassins at the foot of the goddess Esrola and followed them deep into the underworld. There they met the broken Blue Moon goddess and armed with pieces of her (an eye, a ligament, and her heart) they followed the goddess of innocence. But their songs of might and power scared the young goddess off. When they caught up with her, she was an innocent youth no more but a beautiful woman clad in crimson glow – a woman they recognized as the same who appeared at the culmination of Kallyr’s Lightbringers Quest – none other than Jar-eel the Razoress.

    They are woefully prepared. Vasana has no armor, and is clad in a loin cloth and blue ashes. Harmast spent all of his Rune points previously, and Yanioth is accompanied by a dead ancestor.

    I was surprised that Jeff Richard did not mention Yanioth’s spirit pig! With granny-ghost, spirit pig, free from all unnecessary worldly nonsense, and as long our muscle man shows off his muscles and does not try to sing again (fumble!) and our Waha-follower finally succeeds with spotting and demoralizes what can get wrong? BtW- as soon as they spotted the red creature, Yanioth decided for a strategical retreat back to the river banks of the river Styx.

    Yanioth aka Claudia

    There was a really nice use of Divination to determine which adventurer should represent Orlanth in the ceremony. Orlanth’s response, “Whoever best embodies my virtues and attributes,” actually quickly resolved it.And made a subtle comment that Orlanth is not particularly impressed with mortal social status.

    Dragon Pass and the Holy Country map

    Here it is altogether- Dragon Pass and the Holy Country. Again all at 2cm = 8 km scale.

    This does give a really good sense of scale and population density here. And you can see how important those Royal Roads of Sartar are.

    Holy Country map

    Here’s the Holy Country as one map! All in 2 cm = 8 km scale.

    Esrolia map 4

    So here is map four of the series. I still need to put in lesser roads and a few minor streams (plus finish the Rightarm Islands). But you can see Esrolia here. And the Shadow Plateau.

    Fourth map of this series is mostly done. Here’s the heart of the Holy Country at 2 cm = 8 km. Note how densely settled Esrolia is!

    There’s more information about the Shadow Plateau in that map than I’ve ever been able to clearly convey before.

    Look how densely populated Esrolia is!

    A Year Ago

    A year ago I got the terrible news from Suzanne that Greg passed away. It seems fitting that I’ve been spending this week reconstructing his old master maps of Glorantha – some of which were lost, some of which were never finished. Among his many talents, Greg was an amazing cartographer – his maps of Arthurian Britain are simply works of art.His maps were often the basis of his stories. He’d draw a map and then look at how it fits together. The myths and stories underlay the setting, but usually the maps came first.

    So here is a reconstruction of his map of Tarsh. He water painted the back of his originals but I am reluctant to do so at this time.

    I also include a version with a big blue Orlanth figure atop Kero Fin for reference.

    The final picture shows how far away Dragon Pass is from Glamour, the capital of the Lunar Empire. That is the little grey ziggurat in the foreground. That huge Orlanth sure looks tiny in the distance.

    Look how far away Dragon Pass is from Glamour! At 8 km for every 2 cm, that’s more than 800 kilometers away.

    That’s part of the reason Glorantha or King Arthur Pendragon feels so real. Greg worked out spatial relationships very early in the creative process. The broad contour setting usually came first – and then came the stories to fill it up.

    It does raise the question for me whether the Lunars have north up or south? Their maps are of course centered on the Crater – but which way does it look? Towards the Valind’s Glacier? Or towards Dragon Pass?

    Pre-Lunar maps would be centered on Raibanth of course. Raibanth is to the southeast of Glamour. Not very far.

    But more than anything, that helps me visualise the Red Emperor as ruler of almost everything he sees. From atop the Crater he can see through the haze but then sees the Rebel God in the distance. It must be maddening. He is so far away that he is barely a blue speck, but he refuses to scrape and bow to the Lord of the Middle World.

    Most of the time the Red Emperor has more important things to deal with closer to home. Nomad hordes, Mad Sultans, rebellions, harvests, irrigation systems, heron dances, court intrigue, Dart Wars, etc. But one day – ONE DAY mark you – he’ll wipe that smile off that blue bastard’s face.

    And of course the followup image is that of a 2 cm long dragon spiralling around Kero Fin! YIKES! Thankfully the Red Emperor stopped the Dragon from coming here!

    Here’s an old post of mine that helps with a sense of scale:

    But by the time you get to Dragon Pass, that influence from the Lunar Heartlands is largely dissipated. There’s a much richer, and much nearer source of influence on Dragon Pass. But that will have to wait until I am finished with the fourth map of the series.

    Dragon Pass and Kethaela Map

    About 66% done on phase one! The whole of Dragon Pass and Kethaela at 2 cm = 5 miles scale.

    Altogether it is an A0 map. To get all of Prax in would be another A0 map.

    More than anything, I want that done in the Yuri Chodak style of the Shadow’s Dance map in AH’s Trollpak. In my opinion that is the finest RQ map of all time.

    Second best is his Grantlands map.

    This is Greg’s master map overplayed with his road, river, and settlement map, and loads of detail maps. Pretty much everything except ruins and a few other sites are on this one, with labels to come.

    Ever wanted to get a feel how much more densely settled Lunar Tarsh is than Sartar – here you are!

    As with the Sartar map, this has everything except ruins and some sites. And labels.

    And here’s something you grognards might find interesting:

    It’s accessible from Sartar. But it is way more accessible from Tarsh. No wonder Elkoi is under Lunar influence. On the other hand, no wonder nobody bothers to conquer Balazar. It is empty.

    Wasn’t Dragon Pass mapped for the Atlas? Not at this level of detail and precision. The Atlas mapped the whole world. I think I will be very lucky to get Kethaela, Dragon Pass, Prax, and Maniria at this level.

    Meditate in RuneQuest

    One of the little elements added to RQG is Meditate. Pretty much every cult teaches some meditative technique to allow the initiate to clear their mind and receive the divine. This isn’t the same thing as Worship – although obviously they are combined.

    To go back to the Mahabharata (the ancient Indian epic), the various characters often spend time in “austerities” or “meditation” before doing something kickass. When Arjuna “prepares himself with austerities” – you know he is about to do something mighty. But look out, Karna does the same!

    As a result, I imagine RQ characters performing all sorts of yoga, mudras, chants of powers, strange exercises, etc. as they “meditate” to augment some other ability. To me it is a wonderful visual image – like out of Bollywood or a martial arts movie.

    Meditate, Sing, and Dance seem to be everyone’s favourite go-to Augment skills in our group. Yanioth Dances at 71%, Meditates at 60%, and Sings at 76%. Vasana Dances at 46%, Sings at 66%, and Meditates at 52%. We had a session where Vasana announced she was going to spend a week Meditating at the Orlanth temple in Clearwine. And doing nothing else. She described it as being stripped down to a loincloth, painted blue with woad and ash, and trying to clear her mind of nothing but Orlanth. Then again, our group might be a bit odd at times.

    The Satyamurti translation is definitely the way to go. And if you want to have some fun, I’d recommend the Illustrated Mahabharata by DK as a companion piece. Or, also, watch the superb Peter Brooks version of Youtube. Best five and a half hours of life you can spend:

    As I work on several projects simultaneously, I am struck by how – for me – RQ works in 4D:

    1. the physical world. I am working on mapping the location of every river, every settlement, and every mountain and prominent hill in Dragon Pass, Kethaela, and Prax. When I close my eyes, I can see the topography of the place.

    2. the cults. There are about a hundred cults or so that are active in the areas I am working on. Each of these cults are an institution, a collection of myths, a source of power. Most cultures have a mixture of somewhere between a dozen and twenty significant cults, plus numerous tiny cults. The mixture of these cults may well be the most important thing defining any Gloranthan culture.

    3. The Godtime monomyth. Lurking behind everything is the Godtime which eternally recurs. The physical world overlays the Godtime and is its creation. The Spirit World is a membrane that connects the physical world with the Godtime. The Hero Plane does the same, but through a different means. The monomyth is always there, but its meaning and interpretation is always subject to subjective interpretation. Any attempt to reconstruct it and freeze it in Time is always doomed to failure.

    4. The rules mechanics of RuneQuest (or HeroQuest or 13G). Runes, Rune points, spells, magic points, weird abilities, etc. The rules also help explain distribution of temples, certain social dynamics, etc.

    When I am working on these projects, they aren’t the same.

    1. Maps involve me working on huge sheets of transparencies. Transparencies over transparencies. And lots of number crunching. Are there enough settlements there? Too many? Too few?

    2. The cults. That involves writing stories, going through archives of stories. Comparing stories, etc. Text, not maps.

    3. The monomyth. That means consulting the master schematic and the cults. OK these are kind of the same things.

    4. The rules mechanics. That means going back to the big rule book. And testing things out on players.

    Last Night’s Session

    Last night was a session of RQG and diplomacy. Queen Samastina’s chief scribe negotiated a treaty with Prince Argrath, where:

    1. Esrolia recognises Argrath as hegemon of Kethaela, the master of war and chief judge of the lands.

    2. Argrath agreed to recognise his son with Queen Samastina as a member of his kinship group.

    3. Argrath agreed to defeat the Rhigos rebellion.

    4. Argrath gets 1/2 of Ernalda’s share of the harvest in South Esrolia.5. Argrath protects Esrolia from Harrek the Berserk.

    6. Argrath gets half the increase in toll and customs revenue in Esrolia.

    The players were Vasana, Yanioth, etc. as the emissaries of Argrath. We also had three players handle Queen Samastina, Grandmother Jokerta, and Hunarados the Scribe.

    Orate, Bureaucracy, Intrigue, Charm, and Customs all turned out to be really useful. As did Truespeak. That got used a lot. And Honor. And a LOT of passions.

    They are warriors and adventurers, who have now been appointed emissaries. And are fishes out of the water. Sure, they could kill the chief scribe easily – but he ran circles around them.As a result, we watched as the “heroic diplomacy” that impresses Argrath & the Wolf Pirates ran aground in the intrigue and bureaucracy based diplomacy of Esrolia.How else do you think Agrath got stuck with clauses 2, 3, and 5?The players enjoyed it tremendously, and it makes a nice change of pace.

    So part of the irony is, the chief scribe was a Priest of LM, but not much more than that. Not a lot of Rune Points (less than Yanioth at this point) – but he was REALLY good in skills that the players sucked at and are important for negotiations. So the adventurers- including two Rune masters – were thoroughly outclassed by a bunch of scribes. And enjoyed it greatly.

    The adventurers have proven themselves in Argrath’s service, several have proven their extreme loyalty, and they have proven their skills and prowess. Of course they are the sort of people Argrath would send as his emissaries.

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