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
Newest at top, oldest at bottom.
For Halloween, I give you the Destructive Earth goddesses, Maran Gor and Babeester Gor, by Loic Muzy! The come to bring destruction and vengeance upon those who have earned the wrath of the Earth Goddesses! Oh yes, and to wish a Happy Halloween to one and all!
The Lunar Army in Sartar
Prior to the Dragonrise in 1625, there were approximately 15,000 Lunar soldiers in Dragon Pass, with the largest camps of some 10,000 soldiers being outside of the New Temple of the Reaching Moon. Another 2500 were garrisoned in the cities along the network of royal roads, and about 2500 were settled as military colonists in Wulfland and the Dundealos Valley. Tatius the Bright established his headquarters at the New Temple and it was the administrative center for the Provincial Army.
By Earth Season 1625, the New Temple of the Reaching Moon was ready to be consecrated. The Major and Minor Classes from the Lunar College of Magic were already there, having beaten off a Praxian warlord’s attempt to disrupt the preparations. Lunar Rune priests and Rune lords from across the Provinces, nearly every significant Lunar client and ally in the occupied lands, and even sacred nobles from Glamour had gathered to perform the rituals that would extend the Glowline over Dragon Pass. The General Leader of the Guide for the Lunar Way, Icilius Overholy, and Tatius the Bright oversaw the ceremony, under the benevolent supervision of Appius Luxius. Although Jar-eel herself was not present, Enerian Scarlet, a sacred Red Goddess priestess from Glamour and granddaughter of the Red Goddess, assumed the role of the Red Goddess.
When the Brown Dragon awoke, nearly everyone who had gathered at the New Temple were devoured and even their spirits cannot be contacted. Overnight, the Lunar Empire lost some 10,000 soldiers, as well as most of the Lunar Rune masters in Sartar and much of the Seven Mothers cult leadership in the Lunar Provinces. Those kings and chiefs loyal to the Lunar Empire were also lost. Only those smaller garrisons and military colonies were spared immediate destruction, and they either fled or quickly fell to the Sartarites.Only Alda-Chur held out, reinforced by refugees from the rest of Sartar and by 3000 Tarshite soldiers loyal to Fazzur Wideread, who arrived a few weeks after the Dragonrise. Fazzur quickly reorganized the soldiers and attempted a lightning march on Sartar to restore order, but was beaten back by a hastily assembled Sartarite army of the Battle of Dangerford. After that defeat, the Lunar army retreated to Alda-Chur where they were quartered on the residents of the city. This was intended be a temporary measure, but continued until King Pharandros, newly appointed as Provincial General, arrived with units from Imperial Heartland Corps, including elements of the Antelope Lancers, Silver Shields, Granite Phalanx, and the Minor Class of the Lunar College of Magic.In Fire Season 1626, King Pharandros marched south with 5000 Lunar soldiers, following the same route the Red Emperor took in 1602. At the Battle of Old Top (called the Battle of Queens by the Sartarites), the Lunars were again defeated and forced to retreat to Alda-Chur. King Pharandros, fearing the ambitions of Fazzur Wideread, quickly returned to Furthest with his most loyal officers and retinues. The bulk of the Lunar Army, now increasingly Heartland in composition, was quartered on the local population in Alda-Chur. Sullen, demoralized, and increasingly contemptuous of the local population, Alda-Chur in late 1626 was a powder keg waiting to explode.
Except when a general would make an attempt to reconquer Sartar, the Lunar Army in Sartar was largely static, keeping to the area between Alda-Chur and Herongreen. Foraging parties ranged throughout Engoli’s Fold and the Sharl Plains, gathering food and other supplies. Scouting parties of light infantry did cross the Creek, probing the Sartarite defenses; such active reconnaissance was most common in the lead-up to a campaign.
What is not mentioned in this is that the Empire is also dealing with two other far more important crises – the White Moon Revolt and the Revolt in the Redlands.
With about 4000 permanent residents Alda-Chur is the second largest city in Sartar.
A quick cult breakdown for Alda-Chur:
- Seven Mothers – 500 (major temple)
- Ernalda – 450 (major temple)
- Yelmalio – 400 (major temple with support from Vantaros tribe)
- Orlanth – 300 (major temple closed)
- Issaries – 250 (minor temple)
- Lhankor Mhy – 150 (minor temple)
- Chalana Arroy – 150 (minor temple)
- Other – 200
Important note: Post-Dragonrise Alda-Chur is the main stronghold of the Lunar Empire outside of Tarsh. Now that means that at any given time from post-Dragonrise to early 1627 there are a number of Lunar soldiers roughly equal to or more than the population of the city, far more than the garrison can handle. Initially these soldiers are almost entirely Tarshite, but by winter of 1625 there are increasing numbers of Heartland soldiers. The soldiers are quartered on the local population – as this is intended to be a temporary measure. However, after the defeat of the Lunar Army at the Battle of Queens in the summer of 1626, the soldiers return to the city and are again quartered among the local population. In winter of 1626, the Tarshite soldiers are recalled home, leaving only the Heartland troops, who have far less cultural sensitivity.
For purposes of this exercise, let’s say there are 5000 soldiers, 2500 Tarshite and 2500 Heartland.
This cult breakdown is more interesting, at least to me:
- 3000 Seven Mothers (5 major temples)
- 500 Humakti (major temple)
- 1000 Yanafal Tarnils (worshiped in conjunction with the Seven Mothers)
- 500 Polaris or other traditional military cult.
A few things that jump out from this – Alda-Chur is a crowded powder keg of a city. And after the defeat at Dangerford, conflict between the locals and the sullen soldiers are going to get more common.Unlike in Sartar, the soldiers here don’t have a lot do but wait. And their senior command is not their A-team. Fazzur is gone after Dangerford as are his key generals. I suspect there might be the occasional patrol out to Herongreen or to the Dwarf Ford, but even this gets pretty half-hearted.Over time, the soldiers change from being almost entirely Tarshite to at least half Heartlanders. After the defeat at the Battle of Old Top in Fire Season of 1626, the soldiers are once again abandoned by the chief leaders (in this case King Pharandros). Sullen, demoralised, and increasingly contemptuous of the local population, conflicts grow and get serious.
The only good thing after Fire Season of 1626 is that Sartar is obviously no threat and is expected to just tear itself apart without a Prince.
Unlike the other Sartarite cities, Alda-Chur was not built according to a plan, but grew organically and haphazardly around a central temple complex. Temples to Orlanth Rex, the Lightbringers, the Seven Mothers, Yelmalio, and Ernalda are surrounded by a disorderly and crowded ring of residences, warehouses, and other buildings. The city is surrounded by high stone walls built by Prince Terasarin.
Preoccupation languages of the most of the residents was Tarshite, Sartarite, and Tradetalk. Under the Occupation, reduce Sartarite (but don’t get rid of it) and add New Pelorian.Of the Tarshite soldiers, it is New Pelorian and Tarshite. And of the Heartland troops it is New Pelorian.
Seven Mothers in Sartar
Now that we know where the Yelmalio cultists are, let’s look at some ballpark numbers for the Seven Mothers in Sartar.
Seven Mothers cult numbers
- Boldhome 900
- Alda-Chur 500
- OtherCities 900
- Dinacoli 500
- Dundealos 500
- Princeros 500
- Vantaros 500
- Other Tribes 1200 (total)
These numbers are very approximate, and might actually be +/- 100 or so.
But with that caveat, we can see that the other cities have about 225 7 Mothers cultists each, which is enough for a minor temple. The average tribe has only about 60 cultists each, which is not even enough for a shrine.
It seems likely that after the Dragonrise, a network of “hidden” Seven Mothers temples will develop. Some of these numbers will decline, especially in the rural tribes. But the larger groups will likely be pretty stable or even grow a little bit.
Wulfsland is gone. They fled. That was a military colony and it fled soon after the Dragonrise.
Once he understood the scale of the disaster, Jomes Wulf could see that he’d need to retreat to more defensible areas. So he pulled up his colonists and withdrew to Alda-Chur about the time Fazzur showed up.
Jomes is no idiot. If he remained, the Telmori would come for vengeance. And now there is no army to reinforce him and likely no friendly tribes.
Again, you can see that this creates some interesting stories. And in those Far Place tribes, the Seven Mothers cultists are a significant block. They aren’t a majority of any tribe, but they are numerous enough that they can’t just be suppressed or ignored.
it is VERY IMPORTANT to Princes that anyone can travel on the royal roads unmolested. That means more caravans which means more revenue. And attacking ANYONE on the royal road is an attack against the Prince.
The Dundealos fled to the Pol-Joni March. They are back in force.
But there are settlers there from Aggar that survived the Dragonrise.
Enstalos. They have had to submit to the Dundealos/Pol-Joni. They are “half-free”.
Yelmalio cult in Sartar
So where is the Yelmalio cult in Sartar, one might ask. Well here is how that breaks down:
- Sun Dome Temple – 2700 great temple
- Boldhome – 150 minor temple
- Alda-Chur – 400 major temple
- Other cities – 350 (minor temple in Alone, otherwise shrines)
- Vantaros Tribe – 900 major temple
- Colymar Tribe – 250 minor temple (Runegate)
- Amad Tribe – 150 (minor temple)
- The other tribes – 750 TOTAL (about 40 per tribe, not clan).
And that in a nutshell, shows what happened to the Elmal cult.
So most of the tribes don’t even have a shrine to Yelmalio. Worshipers need to travel to a city, or to the Sun Dome Temple. Otherwise the cult is too small to function.
The required ritual challenge is between Wind Lords and solar priests and lords. If you are just an ordinary innocent Yelmalion going on a walk, you are likely going to get ignored.And the priest or lord gains magical recognition from the Wind Lord.
As an aside, a shrine requires 75-225 members, which, if assuming a clan of 1000 people, means that at least one in four of your adults belongs to the cult.Most clans have a minor temple to Ernalda, a minor temple to Orlanth, or a minor temple to Ernalda, a shrine to Orlanth and a shrine to something else.Tribes often have shrines and temples that are shared by the local clans. So the Quackford has a shrine of Issaries that functions as a minor temple because of the local folk and traders who go there to worship.
Dangerford has a minor temple to the Seven Mothers, and a shrine to Engizi and Heler. No Yemalio shrine. The Burial Mound is a shrine to Humakt. There is a shrine to Yelmalio in Dolutha though.
The Bachad have a disproportionate number of Humakt and Maran Gor cultists, the Tres have Maran Gor and Chalk Man.
So when we think about Maran Gor, probably almost half of the cultists are around Alone. Which makes sense, given that they from the Bush Range and Koffer Hills.
as an aside, I imagine that the Torkani, with 6500 members, have somewhere around 500 Argan Argar cultists. Enough for a major temple.
One thing I find invaluable with these exercises is that you run out of these small cults pretty quick.
it is Yelmalio among the Amad and Alone temples.
A snippet of the Chaos gods by the amazing Agathe Pitié! BTW, are you aware that is the same name as one of the students of Wilms, and the same person who actually did the great frescoes that adorn the walls of the Royal Palace and the Orlanth Temple in Boldhome?
More notes people might enjoy.
This time, Sir Ethilrist.
Ethilrist is sometimes thought to be an incarnation of Hrestol. He encountered Hrestol himself in the middle of Hrestol’s own quest, ravaged Hell, and Ethrilrist gained great loot and his herd of 2600 Black Horse demons. And yet. Ethilrist’s followers worship Hrestol as a god and Ethilrist as demigod. And somehow gain Rune magic from Hrestol (!). And the magic includes such strange things as Shield, Darksword and Control Demon (and I’ve even seen rumours of Command Chaos!). And yet, Ethilrist is known to offer worship to the Invisible God, and trains a few sorcerers to serve him.Some think there are deeper secrets known only to the inner circles of the cult. That Ethilrist worships the Eternal Hero, or even the Anti-Hero or the Hero’s Shadow. Others claim he is a secret Arkat and that his cult is an Arkati fraud. Ethrilist knows the Red Emperor well (and personally dislikes him, although often serves him), many of the Feathered Horse Queens, and many others. He has likely long since transcended anything resembling Malkionism, but it is known that his runes are Man, Mastery, and Darkness. However, the Troop as a whole is commonly identified with Darkness and Harmony.
Townspeople and tribesfolk
Probably the biggest social conflict among the Sartarites is between the roughly 30k “townspeople” and the 140k “tribesfolk”. One way of seeing the distinction is with cults. So for example, among the rural tribes, about 70% of the population belong to Orlanth or Ernalda. The next biggest cult (at 5% of the population) is Yelmalio, largely concentrated into Sun Dome Temple and the Vantaros tribe. After that, you get Humakt, Storm Bull, and Seven Mothers, at 3% each. After that, it is basically 1% per cult.So for the tribes, it really is just Orlanth and Ernalda. Like rural areas everywhere, the rural tribes are conservative and traditional.But in the towns, Orlanth and Ernalda make up only 40% of the population. The next biggest cult is Issaries at 12% of the population and the Seven Mothers at 11% of the population. Chalana Arroy, Lhankor Mhy, and Humakt are each 6%, and Yelmalio is still at 5%. There are twice as many Issaries cultists inside the towns than in all the rural areas combined.So the towns are going to be far more diverse – although Orlanth and Ernalda are the most important cults, they are a plurality of the community and not even a majority. Another interesting thing – there is a community of 2k dragonewts and many Demi-birds just 10 km from Boldhome.
And yet the townspeople provide most of the leadership, the economic engine, and the larger temples for Sartar. They are not a hermetically sealed community – they OVERLAP with the tribes. They are kin, share the same temples, and provide disproportionate portion of the magical heft of the Kingdom.
Well ironically, the townsfolk are often even more “hill folk” than the tribespeople. Boldhome is the highest elevation settlement in Sartar.
if you are an initiate of Chalana Arroy, Eurmal, Issaries, Lhankor Mhy, or Storm Bull, you are an associated cultist of Orlanth. That’s a step higher than lay member.
An associated cultist gets some Rune Magic from the god. A lay member does not.
So an associated cultist participates in the mysteries, a lay member is on the outside.
Nochet’s cult numbers are VERY different. But there are probably more than 6000 (!) Issaries cultists in Nochet alone. That’s more than in all of Sartar.
I don’t view this as being an analogy to Red States and Blue States. To begin with, this is on a small and human scale. Oakton Village is about as rural tribes folk as you get in Sartar. But even then there is a town about 12 km away. Another town about 22 km away. And a city about 25 km away. The city has scribes, healers, and merchants from foreign lands. Oakton does not – not because you hate scribes, healers, and merchants, but because your community is basically farmers and herders.
Again, the basic reason that the 7M people don’t get the boot is they are there. They submit to the conquerors, agree to pay their taxes. If they get in a dispute with outside groups, they can appeal to the city council or the Prince.
A few things to keep in mind:
1. We are dealing with relatively small population groups. In all of Sartar there’s about 170k people, or the size of a medium sized city. They are scattered over a lot of area, with no real central government. Each group is set up to be able to defend itself and its interests.
2. The Sartarites are polytheists. They acknowledge the existence of many other gods other than their own tribal deities and favoured gods. Most Sartarites dislike the Seven Mothers, but acknowledge their existence of powerful deities.
3. The Seven Mothers are not the Red Goddess. They are associated with her, of course, but aren’t the same thing. And unlike the Red Goddess, they are not associated with the Chaos Rune.
4. The main warrior cults have a strong sense of honour. Killing noncombatants or surrendered enemies is very dishonourable. The Humakt cult gets EXTREMELY angry about this, and they might treat you as a combatant if you start doing that. The Orlanth cult agrees with Humakt on this one. So does Yelmalio, Yelm, and Polaris. And here’s another important one – so does Yanafal Tarnils.
7M initiates are not chaotic. At least that is what the Storm Bull cultists say. What other means do you have to determine that? Yes the senior priest of a temple can cast Chaos Gift and THAT can certainly permanently taint you with Chaos. But most initiates don’t have that ever cast on them.
Another little snippet from the forthcoming Sartar book:
The Liberation of Boldhome
After the Dragonrise, all of Dragon Pass was thrown into disorder. Lergius Cassius held Boldhome with a small garrison of 300 soldiers from the Beryl Phalanx and 200 from the Whipstock Cavalry. After word came to Boldhome that the New Lunar Temple was destroyed and all its participants devoured by the Brown Dragon, riots broke out in the city. With great difficulty, Lergius Cassius was able to defend Moontown and the maintain control of the forts and roads within the city.A week after the Dragonrise, on Humakt’s seasonal holy day, Kallyr Starbrow led her companions and 200 Humakti serving Sarostip Cold-Eye over Quivin Mountain and were let into Boldhome through the North Fort. They attacked the Lunar soldiers guarding the Main Gate from the rear and opened the gate, letting in some 400 warriors from the Kheldon Tribe. At the same time, the Pockets erupted in violence and another 1000 people from Boldhome joined the uprising, attacking Moontown and other Lunar centers.Outnumbered, Lergius Cassius and his remaining soldiers retreated to the Royal Palace, and made their last stand. He and his soldiers fought bravely and to the death. At the time, there were approximately 1500 civilian Lunar cultists in Boldhome. Several hundred were killed during the fall of the city, but once the soldiers were defeated, the Humakti demanded that the Code of War be followed and the civilians spared. The Orlanth priests agreed, and so the surviving Lunars were spared. Although many Lunars fled Boldhome, some 900 or so remained in Boldhome, mostly Sartarite converts, protected by the Code of War.Kallyr Starbrow spent a few days in Boldhome, mopping up and gathering recruits, and then she marched on Jonstown with her followers. In three weeks, she would fight and win the Battle of Dangerford that would make her Prince of Sartar.
Once news got out few wanted to brave Sarostip Prince Killer wrath. Especially with Lergius’ head on a stick.
It didn’t happen instantly but within the day. Most of the rioters preferred to loot and destroy symbols of the Occupation. But when the message got out people stopped. They know what Humakti can do. And these are same Humakti who killed Temertain the prior year.
Also remember Honor is a big deal for Humakt, Orlanth, and Yelmalio. And killing unarmed civilians is by definition dishonorable.As an aside Yanafal Tarnils agrees (unless the Red Emperor commands otherwise).
So any warrior with an Honor passion is going to have problems with murdering civilians.
And given that the foremost Death cult is obsessed with Honor, that might have some strong cultural impact.
command and control is not Humakt’s thing. That’s Death and Honor.
it isn’t that they have rights, but that it is against the Code of War to kill unarmed civilians. Period.
There is a price to having Sword Trance, Sever Spirit, etc. A rigid code of Honor.
I imagine that the Orlanthi have endemic low levels of violence thanks to their honour codes – feuds, revenge killings, etc. – but widespread massacres are very rare for the same reason. I mean the reason the stead burning of Rastalulf Vanak Spear was so remembered is that it was one of the Three Terrible Deeds of Lokamayadon. Who was a VERY BAD guy according to the Orlanthi.
Did I mention that Lergius Cassius’ head was placed on a column in the People’s Court? Last I checked it is still there.
The big [Lunar] buildings are mostly gone and destroyed. But is that the only way temples exist? Somebody forgot to tell the Orlanth cult that…..
Two quick thoughts:
1. Buildings are not all there is to a holy place. Temples can survive the destruction of the building.
2. Looking at you funny? You’ve felt the presence of the Goddess and experienced the liberation of the soul, and you would give that up because people look at you funny? Seriously?
3. This is a Polytheistic setting. The people of Boldhome permit the trolls to worship the deities of Night and the Underworld, and even offer sacrifices to their Spider Goddess. If there is conflict, it should be at the ritual level, in a manner understood and approved by the gods.
4. Society is organised around kin. Are these folk your kin? No? Then what of YOUR laws have they violated? Have they stolen from you? Then make a demand for compensation. Have they damaged your property or people? Then make a demand for compensation. Have they sacrificed to Chaos? What do the priests say? Nothing? Then what are you doing wasting my time!
of course that in a universal monotheistic world-view, conversion or else makes some intellectual sense. The others are worshiping False Gods etc. But it is important to keep in mind that the Orlanthi recognize that the Lunar gods are gods (and vice verse). They are hostile to the 7 Mothers – just as they are hostile to Zorak Zoran. Yelorna, and the Bloody Tusk.
Here’s an approximate number of cultists inside of Boldhome, as I think people might find this one real interesting:
Cult – Approximate number of cultists c. 1626
- Orlanth – 1400
- Ernalda – 1000
- Maran Gor – 50
- Babeester Gor – 75
- Chalana Arroy – 400
- Eurmal – 150
- Issaries – 750
- Lhankor Mhy – 400
- Daka Fal – 100
- Humakt – 400
- Seven Mothers – 900
- Uleria – 150
- Gustbran – 150
- Eiritha – 150
- Yelmalio – 150
- Storm Bull – 150
- Aldrya – 200
- Argan Argar – 200
- Kyger Litor (alone) – 100
- Mostal – unknown
- Other – 325
So in Boldhome, Orlanth and Ernalda are underrepresented as a percentage of population (about 20% each instead of 34% each), but Issaries is way over-represented (over 11% instead of 3%).
They [CA and LM] are there for the entire surrounding region. They are specialists supported by the rest of the population.
Ernalda is not the only largely female cult.
Also Boldhome may well have the largely concentration of Vingans in Sartar.
As an aside, breaking this down by gender, I have 3250 male, 3250 females. So no imbalance at all.
there are a lot of Vingans in Kallyr’s entourage.
Orlanth and Ernalda absolutely dominate in the rural areas. In the cities you have much larger numbers of specialist cults. So although Orlanth and Ernalda are still the largest cults even in the cities, they are a plurality instead of an absolute majority.
There are a LOT of young unmarried warriors in post-Liberation Boldhome. and a lot of Vingans, Of course some of the specialist cults skew female – so it does actually work out.
That’s ancestor worship directly through Daka Fal alone.
So Boldhome has lots of different types of people. You have lots young, unmarried warriors from the Adventurous cult, Issaries merchant and caravaners, veteran Humakti warriors, Earth women with their snakes, Thunderous free men, Yelmalio Sun Domers, Babeester Gor warriors, dancing Earth Shakers, Seven Mothers mystics, hazia fiends, and poets (presumably hanging out in cafes and inns), Eurmal clown bands, Chalana Arroy holy women, bearded scribes, love hippies, Storm Bull cultists ranting about the White Bull, cattle women, and more.
There’s a cacophony of music, shouts, and tongues. There are dancers, sights, and smells. Spices from the Holy Country and beyond, Praxian beasts, incense and hazia, and of course wine.
Eurmal cultists are not only tolerated by the Orlanthi, but actively encouraged by the leadership of the Orlanth cult.[Seven Mothers Cultists] They live there. Many of them were born there. And the Humakt cult, and to a lesser extent Orlanth and Yelmalio cults, really gets angry when noncombatants are killed. And that is nearly 2000 folk.
The Lunar garrison was massacred when the city was liberated.
More like the sort of orgy of violence and score settling that you expect with the fall of a city. But once the Humakti killed the soldiers, they demanded that civilians not be harmed. And the Orlanth priests agreed. So the violence more or less stopped and the surviving Seven Mothers cultists are largely safe.
Well the city fell in such a manner that people couldn’t really flee. Maybe I’ll post some details about the Liberation of Boldhome later.
As an aside Boldhome normally supports a great temple to Issaries as a result of the caravan trade.
There’s 750 Issaries initiates in Boldhome. Assume that there are another 250 in surrounding areas that come for holy days (that means btw that Boldhome is the center of a full third of the Issaries cult in Sartar!). Then add in another 100-500 foreigner cultists from the Holy Country, Prax, or the Lunar Empire.
As a result, on seasonal and high holy days, the temple likely routinely gets 1500 cultists, more than enough to support a great temple.
When you think about Eurmal’s cultists, a good source of inspiration are the sacred clowns of the Pueblo Indians:
So pretty much every clan has a half-dozen or so “clowns”. They gather for big religious ceremonies of the Lightbringers and cause trouble, mocking the rites, making fun of leaders, etc. But they are PART of the rites and important magic. So their activities are protected strongly by the Orlanth cult.
Sartar Cult Members
How many members of my cult are there in Sartar?
There are about 170k people in Sartar (including the Far Point but not the Pol-Joni).
Let’s assume a little over half are initiated adults. That gets us 90k cultists. Here are some rough numbers of how that breaks down in Sartar:
Approximate number of dedicated worshipers (late 1625 or 1626)
- Orlanth 39,625
- Ernalda 39,000
- Maran Gor 1,100
- Babeester Gor 1,100
- Chalana Arroy 2,300
- Eurmal 1,150
- Issaries 3,500
- Lhankor Mhy 2,300
- Daka Fal 2,500
- Humakt 4,000
- Storm Bull 2,800
- Seven Mothers 5,500
- Hykim & Mikyh 2,700 (inc Telmor)
- Yelmalio 5,750
- Other Cults (Argan Argar, Asrelia, Eiritha, Engizi, Heler, Kolat, Odalya, Ty Kora Tek, Uleria, Waha, Yinkin, etc.) 7,100 total. Let’s say an average of about 145-500 per minor cult.
What that hopefully makes clear is that there are not going to be great temples of any of the minor cults (or indeed the smaller cults) in Sartar.
But that’s the rough numbers with which to work with. What you can see is the overwhelming preponderance of Orlanth and Ernalda. Even if together they are a little less than 70% of the total population, they are the only cults that can have multiple great temples, and many major temples.At the other end of the scale, the smaller cults need to be concentrated in a handful of places to even get minor temples. So Eurmal has a minor temple or two, but otherwise just shrines. Lhankor Mhy has a major temple or two, a few minor temples, then just shrines. Etc.
Seven mothers in boldhome? Kallyr didn’t murder the civilians who worship the Seven Mothers when she took Boldhome, did she? The crafters, the tavern owners, the servants, etc. The Seven Mothers cult is the gateway to the Lunar Way.
Full-time hunting is not nearly as significant as you might think. Most hunting is supplemental for the Sartarites.
And yes that does mean that there are more Sartarites in Eurmali clown societies than there are full-time professional hunters.
And it looks like more than a third of all Chalana Arroy initiates are in Boldhome and Jonstown. If you add in Alda-Chur, Swenstown, Wilmskirk, and the Nunnery we have 850 initiates in all of rural Sartar and the Far Point. That’s not many.
Great Temples of Sartar
I believe these are the great temples around Sartar. Let me know if I missed anything:
- Clearwine Earth Temple (Ernalda)
- Hill of Orlanth Victorious (Orlanth)
- Orlanth’s Hill (Orlanth)
- Shaker’s Temple (Ernalda, Maran Gor)
- Wintertop Fort (Orlanth)
- Boldhome (Orlanth, Ernalda)
- Sun Dome Temple (Yelmalio)
- Whitewall (Orlanth)
- Vorda Hill (Ernalda)
- The Block (Storm Bull)
- Castle of Lead (Kyger Litor, Zorak Zoran)
- Cliffhome (Kyger Litor, Zorak Zoran, Aranea)
- WIld Temple (Arachne Solara)
- Old Wind Temple
As an aside, Eiritha is an important cult for the Pol-Joni, but Ernalda is still more prevalent. The Pol-Joni are very atypical Praxians. The Paps is too far away to make my list – it is a good 120 km east of Swenstown. At that point I might as well be including Nochet.
the point is that I listed the great temples around Sartar. The Block is close enough that I included it, along with Whitewall. But by no stretch of the imagination is the Paps “around Sartar”.
Here is the official position:In 1490 Sartar offered the Pol-Joni Tribe a partnership in the city of Swenstown. They agreed, and there formed a bond between the land of Sartar and the people of the Pol-Joni. The alliance was effective against the Animal Nomads, who bore no love for Orlanthi of any type.
So the Pol-Joni have rights in Swenstown. It is a market for them, it is a sacred place for them, and they are protected by its laws in transactions, etc.But they are partner-allies of the kingdom, not subjects. The Pol-Joni are intensely loyal to the Sartar Dynasty, but their relationship is different from the other Sartarite tribes and as Nick points out, they are on a different footing (mounting?) than the rest.Now post Dragonrise this gets even more complicated, as the Pol-Joni have aided their Dundealos kin in reclaiming the Dundealos Valley. And those two groups are right now hopelessly intertwined.
Each city is the center of a union of tribes, and shared by them as a market and religious center. Other groups may share in them but with less say over how the city is operated.
The Pol-Joni are usually listed among the “tribes” of Sartar, as are the Duck and the Telmori. But like the Telmori, their relationship is different than most other tribes.
I think in the pre-Sartar period, the Pol-Joni were like the bashi-bazouk or Pindari. They were cattle herding nomadic trouble-makers who’d get hired by the King of Tarsh as high quality irregular cavalry, but would also plunder and pillage mercilessly. Sartar brought them into a long-term mutual alliance with him and they now guard the Pol-Joni March against the other tribes.
Clearwine Earth Temple is a great temple because it is unusual. It is draws not only on the Colymar but the surrounding lands as the “first” Earth temple built after the Resettlement. Of course the Shaker Temple still gets priority because it was still active during the Inhuman Occupation.
But among the Orlanthi it is rare than any cult gets more than 40% of the population. But with the trolls normally at least 50% only worship KL. So I expect there are a lot of KL great temples in Dagori Inkarth.
As a general rule, trollkin outnumber dark trolls about 2:1 (a lot more trollkin are born than dark trolls, but dark trolls live a lot longer). So if Cliffhome as 19,000 trolls, really that means 12,000 trollkin, 6,000 dark trolls, and 1,000 great trolls. Plus a lot of spiders.
As an aside the Humakt regiment counts as a Great Temple when it is fully mustered. But that hasn’t happened since 1602. Although it will happen again soon…..
Although a temple is often described with reference to a specific location or building, rites for a given temple sometimes take place in different locations for different events. For example, the Boldhome Orlanth Rex temple sometimes travels to the Hill of Orlanth Victorious for part of the Sacred Time rites. Also, it is worth mentioning that some holy places are shared by several temples. For example, the Starfire Ridges are holy to the Orlmarthing Clan of the Colymar Tribe and when the clan Orlanth cult gathers there, it functions as a minor temple. But they are also holy to the tribal Orlanth cult, and during those ceremonies, it functions as a major temple.
God Time: In the God Time, there was no division between the worlds of men and gods, between Life and Death, or body and spirit. The events and deeds of the God Time made the cosmos and established its patterns.The Gods War introduced the power of Death, which separated all with violence, death, and entropy. Reality was fractured. The eternal gods would have ceased to exist but for the Cosmic Compromise, whereby the gods voluntarily abdicated their free will within the temporal world rather than lose all into the maws of nonexistence. The gods remained eternal at the cost of being limited to their God Time patterns.
Hero Plane: This plane exists simultaneously in the temporal Mundane World and the eternal Gods World (and sometimes the Underworld). There live legendary beings, including worshiped heroes or traditional enemies. Incarnations of the gods manifest easily here and interact with beings and things. There are landscapes, peoples and individuals, and the usual physical laws of the Mundane World mostly hold true, thus people can walk about, eat, talk, and otherwise physically interact with the world. However, both Time and the God Time interact here, as a result an adventurer in the Hero Plane may simultaneously interact with gods (or at least their incarnations) and with purely mundane things.
Gods World: The realm of eternity. Every god and goddess who performed great immortal deeds is found here. Within this world of extremes lie the heavens and hells of the cults, where initiates and devotees go after death. Here, too, lie the great pools of creative material from which were made the primal oceans, ancient mountains, and first skies of the mundane world.
Mundane World: This is the world of mortal beings, bound by Time. This is the physical world, of Life and Death. This is the world of your RuneQuest adventurers.
Spirit World: This world is made up of non-physical (discorporate) entities and things. It has a correlation with the Middle World in that many spirits maintain their relative spatial positions in the Middle World and the Spirit World. It is a place of sublime beauty and life, but also where lost spirits wander, where broken dreams coalesce, and where nightmares feast.The Spirit World can be visualized as a place without gravity or an exterior light source, but which is instead filled with various shapes of color. Real perception is limited, and depends on both the power of the viewer and the viewed.The Spirit World is made of many smaller parts that are distinct but connected to other locations through spiritual pathways.
Underworld: The Underworld is the irrational ancestress of known Glorantha. It precedes all that can be known, and thus cannot be truly known. It houses mystery, spawns mystery and is a mystery itself. Many Gloranthans think that all the worlds of Glorantha spawned from the Underworld.Hidden deep underneath the center of the bottom of the lowest Underworld is the Chaosium, the Fount of Chaos, which spews forth both monstrosities and raw unformed “stuff” into the world. What no sane Gloranthan really understands is that, without this Chaos entering the world, everything would be locked into Stasis.
here’s it in a nutshell: the Compromise is Time. Time includes a certain amount of Chaos – entropy, degeneration, etc., all are features of Time. But Time also has laws, which if broken would allow Chaos to reenter the world and destroy it.
A few notes people might find interesting:
WOLF PIRATES OVERVIEW
In 1621 there are some 60+ Wolf Pirate ships, before Harrek’s circumnavigation. Let’s say that losses get replaced and by 1625, we have 60+ ships operating in the Choralinthor Bay, which comes out to about 3100+ Wolf Pirates.The average Wolf Pirate ship has on average 50 warrior-rowers, 1 captain, and 5 officers. Each ship has a small Dormal shrine and a protective spirit housed in the figurehead on the prow.
<For comparison purposes, this is comparable to the total number of pirates in the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy and comparable to most of the Viking fleets that operated around the North Sea.>
Although they started in the Yggs Islands, by 1625 the Wolf Pirates are multi-ethnic, as soldiers, refugees, outlaws, and adventurers have joined Harrek’s fleet. Yggs Islanders now form a relatively small minority of the Wolf Pirates.The lingua franca among the Wolf Pirates is a Theyalan creole made out of a simplified Ygg Islander with strong influences from Rathori and Jonating, Many Wolf Pirates also use Tradetalk.
WOLF PIRATES NATIONAL ORIGIN
No. Origin %
- 620 Yggs Islands 20%
- 620 other Fronelans 20%
- 155 Malkioni heretics 5%
- 310 Maniria 10%
- 310 Sartar 10%
- 310 Holy Country 10%
- 155 Teshnites 5%
- 310 Fonrit 10%
- 310 Other 10%
The basic unit of social organization for the Wolf Pirates is the ship crew. Joining a ship’s crew is an initiation into that community – the crew worships the spirit of their ship. Every crew elects its own captain and officers. Every Wolf Pirate is entitled to an equal vote when choosing their captain and officers; but once chosen, the captain and officers must be obeyed unless replaced or personally challenged. Every crew member gets an equal share of any plunder, except that the officers get two shares, and the captain three.The Wolf Pirates welcome anyone into their society who is willing to live by their rules. Captives are offered this opportunity if they have the skills, and many folk seek them out when they are in a neutral port, or even raiding the mainland. Others take ship or boat and sail to Three-Step to join.Despite this, Harrek the Berserk is the unquestioned Sea-King. Although all have the right to challenge his decision, none dare contradict the savage demi-god.
The Wolf Pirates do most of their fighting on land. In sea battles, they try to board enemy ships and use their superior numbers of warriors to overwhelm their victims. On land, the Wolf Pirates use a variety of arms and armor. Wealthy pirates often wear corselets of bronze and linen, or just out of boiled leather. They are famed for their horned or feathered helmets. They use javelins as distance weapons, and engage with sword and shield.
The most important cults of the Wolf Pirates is Orlanth (more than a third of all Wolf Pirates are initiates of Orlanth) and Ygg (about 20% of all Wolf Pirates are initiates of Ygg). The next most important cults are Dorma (more than 10% of all Wolf Pirates are initiates of the Sailing God) and Humakt (nearly 10% worship the God of War). Gods of lesser importance include Valind, various Sea Gods, Hrestol, Arkat, the Two Brothers, Abdamedric, and Tolat.
YGG The North Wind
Ygg is a rapacius son of Vadrus, and brother of Valind. He is one of the Vadruding, the terrible sons of Vadrus. He raged across the land and water, bringing death and destruction in his wake. Ygg took many hostages from the sea gods until Neliomi submitted to him. Ygg plundered and pillaged the Western Lands and aided his brother the Winter God in his attempts to conquer the world.
Rune Spells: Increase Wind, Shield, and Sleet, and Wind Warp. He can command up to Medium Air Elementals.Ygg has a subcult (Wavebeater) that can summon and command enslaved Small and Medium Water Elementals.Ygg is served by Rune Priests and is associated with Orlanth and Valind.
The Wolf Pirates originate on Yggs Islands, a small chain of forested islands off the northern coast of Fronela. They were visited by Dormal in 1583, and the Islanders returned to the seas. The Yggs Islanders fought a long war with the Kingdom of Loksalm.About two dozen Wolf Pirate ships left Yggs Islands in 1598, and defeated the Loksalmi fleet. For a dozen years, these pirates plagued the West. Many settled on the island of Ginorth, in Old Seshnela.In 1607, Gunda the Guilty, a Jonating warrior-woman became a Wolf Pirate ship captain, and within a few years, made herself one of the leading Wolf Pirate leaders.In 1610, the Wolf Pirates settle on Three Step Isles, barren islands south of Kethaela that had been abandoned since the Dawn. This has became the main base of the Wolf Pirates.In 1615, Harrek was chosen by the god Ygg to lead the Wolf Pirates and be their Sea-King. He led the Wolf Pirates to raid the Genertela coast from Fronela to Prax, sailing as far abroad as Jrustela.In 1621 Harrek led his Wolf Pirates on a three-year voyage around the Homeward Ocean, raiding Teshnos, Teleos, Font, Umathela, Jrustela, and Seshnela, before returning to Kethaela in early 1624. Surprisingly, he allied with several Kethaelan leaders to fight the Lunar Empire at Pennel Ford. Later that year, he received his reward and plundered the magical City of Wonders.For the next several years, the Wolf Pirates raid Kethaela with impunity. The Kethaelans agree to follow Argrath of Sartar if the new Prince can get rid of Harrek and the Wolf Pirates. The Prince achieves this by allying with Harrek, and that year, half the Wolf Pirates follow Argrath over the Dragonspine into Tarsh. Although Harrek later quarrels with Argrath and leaves Dragon Pass altogether in 1631, many of the Wolf Pirates that followed Argrath into Dragon Pass remain.
A substantial island-bound population has settled on Three Step Islands now. These are wives, concubines, and families of the pirates, as well as refugees, merchants, shop-keepers, and fishermen who make the pirates lives bearable upon the isle. There are even a few farmers and a large number of sheep-herders.The only sizeable settlement is Skullport, which serves as the main port of operations for Harrek’s fleet. Given that the Wolf Pirates themselves are transient, Skullport is normally populated largely by slaves capture by the Wolf Pirates, and by those foreign merchants (including Vadeli), shopkeepers, wine sellers, entertainers, and prostitutes who live of the pirate’s plunder. It is estimated that there is at least one drinking house for every ten residents.
LEADERS OF THE WOLF PIRATES
Harrek is king of the Wolf Pirates. His authority is supreme and unquestioned. He is also a demigod, and doesn’t really care about administrative matters.Gunda is the military brains behind the Wolf Pirates. She leads the battles, as Harrek just kills.
Gold Gotti is the organizational brains behind the Wolf Pirates. He keeps the food and supplies flowing. He organizes the efficient plunder of everything.
Did you know that Boldhome is even higher up in the mountains than Wintertop Fort? Or that thanks to the proximity of Sky Fall Lake, Alone actually gets more snow than Alda-Chur? Or that there is an active cinder cone less than 10 km away from Alda-Chur?Or how about this – less than 8 km from Boldhome is a deep canyon through which the Quivin River falls, but that it is a mere seasonal stream not far past Toena Fort?
Did you know that the Dragon’s Eye is actually the physically largest settlement on the surface of Dragon Pass?
Did you know that Dragon Pass gets its name not from one dragon, but from at least eight! The more you know!
Did you know that there are at least a half-dozen active volcanoes in Dragon Pass, and probably more?
Farmland tends to be around rivers and streams as those areas tend to have the best soil to work with a scratch plow, are the best watered, and easiest to irrigate. There’s a few areas with some dry farming, but not much.My uncle was a soil scientist who headed up the desalinisation project with the HAVA back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, so he had loads of books and papers on this stuff. And since it was Afghanistan it was remarkably on point for this.
At this scale we are getting streams more than rivers. The Nymie stream for example is only about 16 km long.
The Swan is a little seasonal stream. I suppose you might be able to get a canoe in there when it is high, but you can get a canoe into pretty much anything – you only need about 15 cm of water for them. That being said, I don’t consider the Swan to be navigable.
As an aside, even the Creek and the Stream are more about the size of the American or Stanislaus Rivers. So this might well be the Stream at Sartar’s Bridge in late Fire Season:
Or this might be the Stream near Clearwine Fort:
The only big river is the Creek-Stream River itself. Fed by Skyfall Lake so it has a huge water flow. Even the ducks need to portage their boats above Geo’s River Inn. The New River is fast and turbulent – experienced river folk and ducks can navigate it safely, but there is a reason most caravans take the roads.
And keeping up the analogy, the Sacramento is a pretty good point of comparison for the Creek-Stream River. They are even roughly about the same length.
One nice thing about this snippet here is that is shows just how close Delecti is to the Lismelder, and how easy it is to see the Orlmarthing and the Greydogs feud over those hills. And also the forested areas and the cultivated areas. This is a part of the main breadbasket in Sartar, along with the Chormsland around Wilmskirk.
Another detail I love is the dinosaur spot near Hump. It is worth knowing these dinosaur congregation areas!
Especially since it is worth thinking about the fact that from time to time hadrosaurs or sauropods are going to be a pain for the poor old Ten Spear clan.
Ostor Colymar (village): This walled village near the Upland Marsh is the center for the Enhyli Clan of the Colymar. Each night, fires burn in the watchtowers built to observe the Upland Marsh.
One thing about Sartar is that you really can see the next village over, and it is often easy enough to spot that band of warriors riding over from the clan you recently screwed over. From atop the Starfire Ridges you can keep an eye on most of the Colymar and Lismeldr villages and even watch the Royal Road.
This is how Greg imagined Dragon Pass. The Dragon’s Eye is a little more than 25 km away from Two Ridge for example.
Cults Of Sartar
The primary cults of Sartar are those of Orlanth and Ernalda. More than two-thirds of all Sartarites are dedicated to one or the other cult, and the cults are so closely associated that they can sometimes be thought of as a single cult of Orlanth and Ernalda. Almost everyone else attends the major sacrifices of these deities as associate members or as lay members.The other Lightbringers (Chalana Arroy, Eurmal, Issaries, and Lhankor Mhy) are collectively the next most important group of cults. These cults are closely associated with the Orlanth cult, as their temples are mainly found in Sartar’s cities.The Earth Goddess is assisted by her family, most noticeably Babeester Gor and Maran Gor. Asrelia and Ty Kora Tek have small cults in Sartar, and are found mainly at the larger Earth Temples of Clearwine and Boldhome.Yelmalio serves as the solar deity for Sartar. His main temple is the Sun Dome Temple in southern Sartar, but has smaller, although still significant, temples in Alda-Chur and Boldhome.Humakt is the most important war god in Sartar, although Storm Bull and Babeester Gor are also significant. Several tribes have Humakt as an important patron god, while Storm Bull is more popular near the Praxian plains. The Storm Bull cult serves as a link between the Orlanth cult and the Praxian tribes.Although the Lunar Empire is gone, there are still pockets of Seven Mothers worshipers throughout Sartar, particularly in the cities. These cultists usually worship in secret, with the temples built during the Lunar Occupation mostly destroyed. Nonetheless they still quite numerous, and are nearly equal in numbers to the Yelmalio cult.Daka Fal is also a significant cult in Sartar, as many worship their ancestors as their primary magical protection. Ancestor worship is often incorporated into other cults, with ancestors worshiped as heroes and cult spirits.Argan Argar, Eiritha, Engizi, Heler, Kolat, Odalya, Yinkin, and a few other significant deities (that appear in the RuneQuest rules) have very small cults and in many cases their worship is usually combined with that of Ernalda and Orlanth. There are even several small temples to Uleria, although her worship is mainly by lay members. The few Rune masters of these cults may travel from associated temple to associated temple to perform sacrifices and lead worship. Collectively, membership in these cults constitute less than 5% of the population in Sartar.
The Orlanth Rex cult provides a superstructure for the Orlanthi religion. Most tribes have their own Rex cult, and Sartar is the Rex cult for the kingdom. Sacrifices are offered at the Flame of Sartar in Boldhome and the Prince serves the high priest of the cult.
Other Minor Cults
There are many other minor cults in Sartar, most with only hundred or so initiates in total. These minor cults can be treated as spirit cults, but are often headed by a senior initiate or a priest of an associated cult instead a shaman.
Some minor cults include:
- Great-Bearded Bran
- Chalk Man
- Elk Woman
- Fire Top
- Golden Lamb
- Great Weighty
- Horned Owl
- Lant Ulfar
- River Horse
- Sartar the Builder
- Sheep of Luck
- Silver Deer
- The Six Sisters
- Swan Mother
- White Bull
- White Raven
You would be right to see Argan Argar. Not Kyger Litor, because they aren’t trolls. Nor Xiola Umbar, because it is a marginal cult, and Chalana Arroy has support at the intertribal level. Argan Argar, Orlanth, and Ernalda are the main tribal patrons, with Humakt, Creek, and Heler all being important minor cults.
The Torkani are Orlanthi, but Argan Argar is their tribal patron deity. The cult has enabled the Torkani to have a cautious friendship with the trolls of the Indigo Mountains. However, the tribe controls several important holy sites to Orlanth and Humakt and those gods are important to the tribe. The tribe controls the main road to Pavis.The Siganti tribe of Torkan’s Last Fort dominate tribal affairs. Hundara Nightbeam, daughter of the previous queen Yrsa Nightbeam, is the current tribal ruler.
But the Torkani are HUMANS not trolls. So Kyger Liter is not one of their tribal deities.
Eiritha not Uralda. Uralda was the Old Heortling name of a cow goddess from the period before contact with Prax was resumed. David Dunham thought that would be a better name for the 1330-era settlers in KoDP than Eiritha. But it is now 1625, and we have more than a century of intensive interaction with the Praxians. And so Eiritha is her more commonly used name in Sartar.
Argan Argar, Eiritha, Engizi, Heler, Kolat, Odalya, Yinkin, and a few other significant deities have very small cults and in many cases their worship is usually combined with that of Ernalda and Orlanth. The few Rune masters of these cults may travel from associated temple to associated temple to perform sacrifices and lead worship. Collectively, membership in these cults constitute less than 5% of the population in Sartar.
That “tame Sun god” rebelled against the Sartarite tribes and the Princes of Sartar in the 1550s. Fortunately Monrogh Lantern revealed that said “tame Sun god” is actually Yelmalio and the rebels settled down at their Sun Dome temple and became quite reliable.
Argan Argar, Eiritha, Engizi, Heler, Kolat, Odalya, Yinkin, and a few other significant deities have very small cults and in many cases their worship is usually combined with that of Ernalda and Orlanth. The few Rune masters of these cults may travel from associated temple to associated temple to perform sacrifices and lead worship. Collectively, membership in these cults constitute less than 5% of the population in Sartar.
And this is a key point – these cults are small.
most of these spirit cults in Sartar have an associated priest running them.
This troublesome Knowing Priest comes from the far west and is of unknown age; he has claimed to have been born long before Sartar came to this land. Redbird is notorious for asserting he knows the best way to bring peace, perform rituals, and what the secrets of each cult really mean. As a result, few liked him, though most tolerate his presence. Before Starbrow’s Rebellion, Redbird had been searching the lands of Esrolia for the last living heir to the line of Sartar, and was assisted in this quest by Leika Ballista and her companions. Lunar agents had searched for this heir for decades, and abandoned it as a fruitless rumor. Yet Redbird found Temertain, and with Leika’s aid, they snuck Temertain into Boldhome, where he secretly went to the old palace and made the Flame of Sartar, dead for years, flicker to life. Redbird convinced Temertain that he could be the Philosopher King and make peace between the Empire and the tribes. Redbird was his advisor, and he wrote a peace proposal to conciliate the imperial rulers with the natives. Redbird is extraordinarily well-traveled, seeking interracial harmony and world peace, but through his arrogance has made enemies in every place he has visited.
Lightbringers by Agathe Pitié
This recent piece by Agathe Pitié is without a doubt my favorite depiction of the Lightbringers and part of a larger piece that is simply amazing. The iconography of each Lightbringer is correct and each gets to show off. But the whole piece -WOW!!!!!
Seven Lightbringers are all there and present. I’ll give you a hint – Ginna Jar is a ghostly spirit.
I particularly like the characterisation of Orlanth, Chalana Arroy, and Eurmal here. Flesh Man looks terrified as always – I kind of imagine him as kind of like Tahei and Matashichi from The Hidden Fortress.
Issaries does not have a sword in this piece. The guy with the red beard is NOT Issaries.And troll gods can fight with whatever they want.
Orlanth by Agathe Pitié
Orlanth symbolizes and forms the elemental Air; he is a foundation of the cosmic order. He is King of the Gods by right of his strength and deeds, and his virtues maintain the world. He is responsible for maintaining the cosmos. His cult provides guidelines for its members to follow in determining their activities about themselves, their society, the cosmos, and the great mystery of being. Participation in the cult of Orlanth makes a person a full citizen of the universe.As both the murderer of Yelm who plunged the world into darkness and the leader of the Lightbringers who revived the world, Orlanth is the God of Heroes, an untamed destroyer who nonetheless protects life and aids civilization. He destroys not to end the world but to make way for the new. Orlanth made the world what it is through his deeds and his cult is destined to play a central role in the Hero Wars.
Also from the royal palace in Boldhome.
And this shows why Orlanth is just plain awesome. He doesn’t need to belittle other gods or take claim for deeds he didn’t do. What he did was awesome enough for a dozen other gods.
veryone, and I mean EVERYONE, wants Orlanth in their story. He’s the Johnny Cash or David Bowie of the Gloranthan gods. And what a career. A prodigy as a child, an adventurer as a young man, a Thunderous king in his prime, and KING Lightbringer at the end, he did it all and did it his way. Here’s to you Orlanth!
Agathe Pitié and I both have Maine Coons!
All that “barbarian” stuff is just Lunar insecurity and inadequacy. The Lunars needed to get Orlanth in their story to make it to the “A list”. Yelm, Ernalda, Magasta, even Kyger Litor has her Orlanth stories. Without King Lightbringer showing up – friend, enemy, lover, doesn’t matter what just as long as he is in the story – you are stuck in the Gloranthan minor leagues. We all know it – and so do the Lunars.
Old Gods at the Dawn
Did you know that many God Learners concluded that Flesh Man was another name for Malkion?
I posted this after reading some notes from Greg he wrote back in 1978 or 1979 that identified Flesh Man with Malkion.
The Goddess Switch comes from the Hang-Around Internet Forums school. They wanted to prove that there is no difference between Grain Goddesses because the spells, skills, and associations are all the same.
Barbarian “Old Gods”At the Dawn, the Hykimi Alliance of Fronela and Ralios worshiped a myriad of ancestors, beast spirits, and other spirits, but acknowledge a loose pantheon of Old Gods including: Ehilm the Sun; Gata the Earth Goddess; Humat the Storm God; Lodik the Fire God; Nakala the Darkness Goddess; Sramak the Source of Waters; Tilntae the Goddess of Life; Urtiam the God of Law; and Zrenthus the Sky God.Minor gods included Eurmal the Clever One, and his son Yomat Friend of Men; Galanin the Sun Horse; Gethor, the God of Death; Flamal, the God of Plants; Hykim, the God of Beasts; Xentha, the Goddess of Night; Vieltor, the Smithing God; and the twins Zolan and Anehilla, who spend half their time in the Sky and the other half in the Underworld. Others worshiped their Beast Ancestors, such as Telmor, Pendal, Basmol, Rathor, and Tawar.These deities had no broad cults outside of Hrelar Amali; instead they functioned as ancestor cults and only served their kin, and some Hykimi boasted of divine bloodlines that enabled them to call upon these deities.Spirit cults were more useful, and Hykimi shamans knew of many localized spirits that were children or lesser versions of the gods (called Srvulai by the Malkioni).The “Old Gods” came under the influence of the Theyalans and the Malkioni, and many of these deities were discovered to have other names and cults. For example, Humat was later incorporated into the Theyalan Orlanth cult or syncretized with Pelorian deities during the Gbaji Wars. The Dark Empire was another period of syncretization, with the ruling Arkati revealing associations based on Arkat’s explorations of the God Plane. This process was greatly accelerated by the God Learners. In the Third Age, the Ralians and central Fronelans worship gods largely recognizable to the Theyalans and Malkioni, but with many spirits and minor gods unique to each locality.
Most of these Old Gods are easily understood as local variants of more widely recognised deities: Ehilm is the Sun Disk, Gata, Umath, Lodril, Xentha, Sramake, Uleria, Mostal, and Aether. Zoran and Anehilla are common identified with Tolat and Annilla, and Gethor with Humakt.
Vostor Blacktooth, Fazzur’s father, was a loyal retainer of General Phargentes, brother to King Philigos who was driven out of Tarsh by Palashee Longaxe (who then became king). For many years the exiles lived in the Lunar Heartlands, growing and gathering strength. Vostor was 24 when the Empire re-invaded Tarsh, and he commanded a cavalry contingent in the fight, showing himself to be clever, confident, and competent. Though the Lunar king was slain, Phargentes made a brilliant recovery, slew Palashee, and became king himself. The year was 1556. Vostor was rewarded with rich lands near Furthest.Vostor had four sons and one daughter by two wives. They were all loyal and brave. The brothers all became Lunar soldiers who fought often for their king. The eldest son, Farrad, died at age 28 in the Battle of Grizzley Peak (1582) which smashed the Sartar army. King Moirades gave Vostor the rich city of Duntop. The second son, Goslem, died at age 23 in the Battle of Bagnot (also 1582), when he acted rashly and attacked too soon. The third son was Wassail. He was quick to rise in the priesthood and helped Phargentes arrange the difficult magic which helped kill Sartar prince Terasarin in 1600. Fazzur was the youngest son, born in 1564. He was a gifted child and a talented soldier, receiving his commision early. Vostos’ last child, a daughter, was born in 1568 and was named Harsta. She was a proud and haughty noblewoman, and wed King Moirades.
The Dragonewts’ Dream
In 1539 the famous Dragonewts’ Dream began, and ended two years later. At this time the real dragonewts seemed to go about their normal business in their cities and outside. But in addition there was a huge appearance of phantom dragonewts going about their mysterious, prehistoric tasks as they had done during the First Council, some 1300 years before. These phantoms were able to affect the outside world and were generally left to do their odd tasks. Once the primary routes and patterns were noted, humans could avoid most contact. During this time the ancient city of Pavis, in the Praxian wastes, was opened up after being sealed by troll magic for many years. After two years, the phantom dragonewts disappeared again and have not returned.
Humakt by Loic Muzy
A little preview from the legendary Loic Muzy showing how Humakt gets made!
A Fragment of the Celestial Realm
I present to you a fragment of the Celestial Realm for your amazement and edification! Thanks to the remarkable Agathe Pitié for this!
Hey, who is that in the lower center? It is the Little Sun, aka Lightfore, better known as Yelmalio!
I believe this piece is from Royal Palace in Boldhome. It is often attributed to Wilms but was actually done in High King Tarkalor’s time.
Uleria is the only remaining member of the Celestial Court to survive the destruction of the Spike.
The “Elmali Civil War”
One last point that had been buried in a previous thread. The “Elmali Civil War” was not within the Elmal cult. It was between the Elmali and the rest of Sartarite society. Monrogh was the respected and revered priest who led the alliance of rebelling Elmali clans. It was the Elmali who rebelled; it was the Yelmalio cult that let them find their rightful place in Dragon Pass.
Cults of Dragon Pass
One thing that should be becoming clear is how much of a mixed salad Dragon Pass is. If we include Sartar, Tarsh Exiles, Lunar Tarsh, and the Grazelands, here are the three largest cults in Dragon Pass:
- 88 k Ernalda (centered on the Feathered Horse Queen)
- 67 k Orlanth (centered on the Prince of Sartar)
- 50 k Seven Mothers (centered on the Temple of the Reaching Moon)
- 25k Other Lightrbringers (Chalana Arroy, Eurmal, Issaries, Lhankor Mhy)
- 16 k Yelmalio (centered on three autonomous Sun Dome Temples)
- 4k Yelm (centered on the Grazeland Pony Breeders).
What other cults are included in the Orlanth number?
Humakt is pretty significant, with 9 to 10k followers in Dragon Pass. Eiritha is largely folded in as an associated cult of Ernalda. Odayla and Yinkin have tiny cults, and really are a rounding error. They are all included with the 16k Other category, which includes Odalya, Yinkin, Eiritha, Lodril, Polestar, Waha, Horned Man, etc.
Storm Bull is about 3k in Dragon Pass, but there are another 20k+ in Prax and the Wastelands.
If you think about the Block as a cult center though, that means there are around 25k Storm Bull cultists between Prax and Sartar. Storm Bull serves as the intermediary between Sartar and Prax, and ironically is the most cosmopolitan and least xenophobic of the Praxian cults.
Additionally, half or more of those Seven Mothers numbers are from colonists from the Heartlands and not conversion.
Now in some way this is deceptive. Orlanth is the leading cult within a group of cults that includes the Lightbringers and Ernalda. So we could also look at this as such:
- 92 K – Orlanth and Lightbringers
- 88 K – Ernalda (closely associated with Orlanth)
- 50 K – Seven Mothers
- 16 K – Yelmalio
Or even like this:
- 180 K – Orlanthi Group
- 50 K – Seven Mothers Group
- 16 K – Yelmalio
Lunar Tarsh is in those numbers. Those 7 Mother cultists are mostly in Tarsh and aren’t going anywhere.
Sun Dome information
For those of you writing about Sun County in Prax, it is useful to remember a few details.
Sun County has about 19,000 people. As a general rule, about half are initiates, let’s say 9000 in Sun County. That means there are about 4000 Yelmalio cultists, 4000 Ernalda cultists, and 1000 Others. Throw in another 200 Yelmalio initiates from New Pavis.So that means there are a total of about 4200 Yelmalio cultists in the River of Cradles. Of those, about 800 serve with the Sun Dome Templars, the rest are militia.The Sun Dome Temple of Prax was isolated from about 1200-1550, surrounded and often ruled by hostile romads. Their horses all died, their Yelm-worshiping Pure Horse People allies disappeared, nonetheless, they held on ferociously to their Yelmalio cult, although he got dimmer and dimmer.All this changed around 1550 when they came into contact with Dorasar and his Yelmalio-worshipping companion Varthanis Brighthelm, and other adventurers from Sartar. They received magic and secrets from Monrogh Lantern and the light of Yelmalio brightened. The Solitude of Testing ended and the Sun Dome Temple rejoined in communion with its brethren in Dragon Pass. The Sun Dome Temple even chose Varathanis as Count in 1569 and for the next two generations, his family ruled Sun County.Now Sun County is a mess. Solanthos is dead, and rival factions back Belvani or Vega as their count. New Pavis is now ruled by another Sartarite adventurer who has the loyalty of all the Great Tribes of Prax.However, it is worth keeping in mind that the Sun Dome Temple is also a major cult center for probably three times as many Praxian Yelmalio cultists. These cultists are dangerous, disloyal, and problematic, but they also provide valuable goods and protection for Sun County,Additionally, keep in mind that Sun County is in contact with the Sun Dome Temple of Dragon Pass. That contact may be sporadic, but the Solitude of Testing is long over.
One thing this does mean is that the Yelmalio cult in the River of Cradles is twice the size of the higher status cult in Sartar. The Sun Dome Temple of Dragon Pass might be the cultural and religious epicenter of the cult, but Sun County in Prax has much greater mass.
That is of course, assuming you count the Praxian members. Otherwise the cults are about the same size.
But still, that means that the roughly 5000 Yelmalio initiates of Sartar are comparable in number to the roughly 4000 Yelmalio initiates of the River of Cradles, which still means that the Praxian Sun Dome Temple is very substantial. It may be a backwater, but it is an important backwater.
I do think the richer Sun Dome Temple in Sartar is able to maintain more Templars. Perhaps 2400 of 4000 serve with the Templars, and the rest as militia.And that is why none of the Sartarite tribes really mess with the Sun Dome Temple. The Colymar can muster about 2500 troubles (about as many as the Sun Dome Templars), but most of their troops are militia. The Sun Dome templars are disciplined and trained pikemen. It would take an alliance of several tribes – which really means it would require the Prince. And since the Prince of Sartar is traditionally neutral or friendly to the Sun Dome Temple, why would you do that?
Sun Hawk is often worshiped in conjunction with Yelmalio by the Impala and Sable tribes.
Red Moon in Prax
Prax is said to have been under Lunar influence since the beginning of Time, for is not Time the source and strength of the Lunar Empire? So the Imperial scholars would have it, who seek to undermine all of the world with their pens when their scimitars have failed.
Early in the Third Age, a hero named Jannisor assaulted the city of Glamour, capital of the Lunar Empire. Among his allies were sable riders from the Hungry Plateau, cousins to the tribes of Prax. During the assault the Star Twins effected that event called the Great Sable Recognition by Lunars and the Great Defection by others. The sable people recognized their Lunar heritage, and went over to worship of the Goddess, spelling doom for Jannisor Moonchaser.Some three hundred years later, the Lunar Empire came up against the nomads of Prax. After the sack of Boldhome, the Empire sought a route to the sea. A desultory war against the Holy Country proved ineffective; the Empire needed to outflank the Pharaoh, and decided to “pacify” Prax. They sent their Sable allies first. These men spoke the same language and had the same customs as the Sable Riders of Prax, but were obviously better outfitted. Sable conversion was fast and almost complete.
The combination of Sable Riders and Lunar Army proved more than the other tribes or the Sartar outpost at Pavis could withstand. The Bison and Impala tribes were forced into the Wastes, and within a few years the Empire had built the city of Corflu on the coast. Thus was established Caravan Alley, where the Lunar convoys were escorted across the desert by armies alert for enemy raiders.
The Return of Prince Argrath
Lunar influence in Prax ended with the rise of Argrath. He had been present many years before, and had been chased from the land riding in the cradle of a giant. He returned with powerful allies, and freed Corflu and Pavis. He welded together a confederation comprised of members of several tribes working together for a positive change.Under Argrath’s leadership, the Lunar Army was beaten and forced to withdraw. Due to commitments farther north (in the Redlands), the Empire could not immediately counterattack with sufficient new forces, and Argrath was able to follow-up on his victory by entering Dragon Pass. He made his triumphant entry into Sartar, and from there he entered into history and legend.After that, the Plaines of Prax remained virtually unchanged. The tribes went about their eternal way, moving and fighting, choosing their gods and spirits seemingly at random for whatever temporary help they could give. Even though the people might have been happier or more prosperous in another, more fertile land, they remained in their ancient ways of hardship. Such, they say, is the curse and the blessing of Prax.
Conversion in this case just means acceptance of the Red Goddess and the 7 Mothers. Around 1621, about 20% of Sables were 7 Mothers INITIATES, but most were at least lay members in the cult.Similarly, only about 35% of Sartarites are Orlanth initiates, but nearly all are lay members of the Orlanth cult. And also nearly all are lay members of the Ernalda cult.
This lay membership might come through an associate cult. For example if you are an initiate of Issaries, you are an associated cult with Orlanth. Which means you are part of the Orlanth religion.
This stuff always gets a little messy on the edges and is never cut and dry – but that is the nature of cult practice, mysteries, and religion.
Something worth keeping in mind: When living beings are possessed by Disease Spirits, other Disease Spirits are attracted and may congregate in the vicinity. In this manner, the appearance of a single Disease Spirit can result in an epidemic of Disease Spirits.
This is not an automechanical thing, but a “tends to”. So there are not game mechanics for this. Instead the GM is free to decide that possession results in no disease spirits showing up, or may decide that every day several more show up. Or even link the appearance of new spirits with the severity of the possession.
All diseases are caused by spirits, magic, curses, etc. I am not sure what a “naturalistic” disease would be.
New Big Rubble and Pavis books
This is some material in the new Big Rubble and Pavis books and is circa 1625-1626.
Note the embryonic Magical Union! Those watching the White Bull campaign have likely gotten a preview of this in play.
All Praxians khans are in theory at the service of the White Bull for the final battle, but in practice, the khans are largely free to come and go as they wish. They flock to his banner when they see an opportunity for loot and plunder, and then return to their herds. At this time, the largest Praxian contingent in New Pavis is that of the High Llama Riders, led by Khan Yazurkial Blue Llama (see below).The four regular units that comprise the personal army of King Argrath White Bull are different. These include the Bullocks, a cavalry unit made up of Praxians from many tribes; the Swordbrothers, a small unit of Humakti cavalry; the Twin Spears, an elite unit of hand-picked royal companions; and the Magical Union, a small embryonic organization of magicians and their bodyguards. Argrath welcomes talented individuals regardless of rank or social status, to join the ranks. However, these units are not organized on clan or tribal lines, and have officers appointed by Argrath. Each of these units have their own cult initiation rituals and requirements that distinguish members from the rest of tribal society.Members of Argrath’s personal army must swear loyalty directly to Argrath. This loyalty transcends traditional boundaries of clan, tribe, and even nation. In return, members are supported and protected by Argrath; they are provided with food and drink. When in New Pavis, they may reside in the Barracks (D-3), in the camp outside of the city, or in whatever lodgings their officers arrange. Argrath protects them in the case of any legal disputes with outsiders, placing members outside of the normal Orlanthi or Praxian legal system. However, this also means that Argrath may impose whatever punishments he wishes on errant members. The primary function of Argrath’s personal army is to serve as his bodyguard and as an elite reserve. Their loyalty to him is direct, and outside of the filters of kinship and cult.
This veteran Praxian cavalry unit is the core of the White Bull warrior society that Argrath founded. Members swear loyalty to Argrath for all Time, and it requires more than mere death to the sever their contract with Argrath. It is made up primarily of riders from the High Llama, Bison, Sable, and Pol-Joni tribes, all of which can act as sub-units to each other if desired.
REQUIREMENTS: Candidates must provide their own mount, arms, and armor. Must succeed in a test of three of the following skills: Ride, Battle, Lance, Sword, Shield, or Javelin. Successful candidates must join the White Bull spirit society and swear loyalty to Argrath White Bull in all circumstances, including over any existing clan or tribal loyalties.
BENEFITS: Supported and protected by Argrath, May lodge in barracks, food and drink provided, right to a share of the plunder taken in war, and regular gifts from the White Bull. Members are taught spirit magic from the White Bull shamans.
ORGANIZATION: Approximately 500 members. Two commanders, Narmeed Whirlvishbane and Roneer the Hue.
SWORDBROTHERS (F-72)Veteran heavy cavalry. The members of this unit swear terrible oaths to Humakt the War God in exchange for powers. Membership was open to all qualified candidates. Lifetime service.
REQUIREMENTS: Candidates must be initiates of Humakt and swear personal loyalty to Argrath above all things. BENEFITS: Supported and protected by Argrath and by the Humakt Temple.
ORGANIZATION: 190 members. Commander is Zamalanth Blue Llama (Yazurkia Blue Llama’s half-brother)
TWIN SPEARS (D-1)The members of this elite cavalry unit are hand-picked companions of Argrath; it is said that Argrath knows each of the warriors in this unit by name. They are all of Sartar blood.
REQUIREMENTS: Candidates must be initiates of Orlanth Adventurous or an associated cult. Many are members of the White Bull spirit society, but that is not a requirement. Candidates must succeed in a test of four of the following skills: Ride, Battle, Lance, Sword, and Shield. Members swear personal loyalty to Argrath in all circumstances, including over any existing clan or tribal loyalties.
BENEFITS: Supported and protected by Argrath. May lodge in barracks, food and drink provided, etc. Members are given the best choice of all loot.
ORGANIZATION: Approximately 80 members. Two commanders, Krogar Wolfhelm and Jarang Bladesong.
MAGICAL UNION (D-1)This is a small collection of Rune priests, Rune Lords, and shamans hand-picked by Argrath and taught magical secrets by him and his household. Members learn to work together, despite belonging to different cults.
REQUIREMENT: Must be a Rune master or shaman of a cult, and swear personal loyalty to Argrath (60% or higher). Members must sacrifice 1 point of POW upon admission.
BENEFITS: Supported and protected by Argrath. Members get training directly from Argrath and his household in Battle, Auld Wyrmish, and in Meditate, Spirit Combat, Spirit Dance, and Spirit Travel. Members are also taught Arkati secret lore. Those who impress Argrath may learn draconic magic. Each such use slightly affects the human’s personality and soul.
ORGANIZATION: About 20 members. Although Argrath is the undisputed leader, Orlaront Dragonfriend and Mularik Ironeye are the main teachers.
Now personally I think you can see the next 30 years of Glorantha in that section.
How did the Twin Spears get that name? I believe it is because each warrior has a lance and a thrusting spear.
By some accounts, by the final stages of the Hero Wars, the “Sartarite army” had nearly as many dragonewts as people and the Orlanthi rode atop wyrms and dream dragons.
My players have recently joined the Magical Union and seek to learn from Argrath. Several can speak Auld Wyrmish at 25% – that has got to be a good thing, right?
There is one Argrath. But he had many companions.
How does he get Waha to accept horses? He’s the White Bull. Waha even says so. The White Bull has a LOT of authority.
Sartar after the Battle of Queens is a mess. And falling apart fast. It seems inevitable that the Lunars will get their act together and reconquer it. If only there was an heir with his own army and resources!
Storm Bull is ambivalent about horses. His cult is very strong among the Pol-Joni, second only to the Rhino Riders.
Yes, the Praxians are known from time to time to ally with the broo. They are far more pragmatic than people give them credit for.
No Argrath did not use Chaos at the 2nd Battle of Moonbroth. But he did have the Pol-Joni who are his allies.In my games, Storm Bull is not bound by Waha’s taboos.
And Jaldon Goldentooth – Mr. I Broke Pavis – does what the White Bull tells him to do. Are you going to question Jaldon? Or Yazurkial Blue Llama? Or Roneer the Hue who slaughtered his own kin for the White Bull? Really?
more than that – this is a core event of the setting that RQ was in fact created for.
They still dislike horses, won’t ride them, won’t eat them, and hold their riders in disdain. But they don’t kill horses or their riders on sight. Any more than the Pure Horse People kill cows on sight.
Hate does not equal murder.
They still hate horses. But what do you do when the warlord says you have to tolerate them? Same thing happens when Greydogs and Orlmarthing, or Varmandi and Orlmarthings fight for the Prince of Sartar. Both the Red Emperor and Prince Sartar lead multi-ethnic forces.
Argrath is not making Praxians ride horses.
And that has always been the case. As has the case that the Praxians have always been known to make pragmatic short-term alliances of convenience with the broo. See Nomad Gods for the first print of both this AND the Praxians themselves. Or see Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, or the US-Soviet alliance for real world examples of this.In short, like most mortals, the Praxians are bundles of contradictions.
The Praxian shamans made a determined effort to wipe out the Pol-Joni but they were decisive defeated by the Pol-Joni and their Sartarite allies in 1489 and the Battle of Denzi’s Water. After that, we have cooperation between the Praxians and Pol-Joni (intermixed with the usual Praxian tribal warfare). But when Sartar was conquered by the Lunar Empire, the Praxians decided to get rid of the Pol-Joni and defeated them in 1607.Which ironically weakened the Praxians as the Pol-Joni did not muster against the Lunar Army at Moonbroth in 1610.Praxian history is full of this sort of kaleidoscopic tribal alliances and betrayals. However, Jaldon Goldentooth is able to lead all the tribes and Jaldon serves Argrath. That’s unique.
Guess what, it is punishable by death to consort with Chaos. And at the same time the khans make decisions to make pragmatic alliances with broo. That’s been in the setting since 1977.
One might say most heroes are cults of personality.
Battle of Heroes
Here’s my official WBRM style overview of the Battle of Heroes in 1628.
I did it Greg style – I played it out on the board!
The Battle of HeroesBackground
Following the defeat of the Redlands Rebellion in 1627, the Red Emperor decided the time had come to restore order to the Lunar Provinces. In 1628, the core of the Lunar Army accompanied him to Furthest, although much of the army and the Lunar College of Magic was left to guard against nomad troubles. In Furthest, he decided to repeat his previous conquest of Sartar a generation ago.Argrath’s agents learned that the Red Emperor and Jar-eel the Razoress had arrived in Furthest in Earth Season 1628.
Argrath decided to attack before the Lunars could gather reinforcements. He gathered his army and in Storm Season marched from the Far Point, intending to head up the Trader’s Valley and force battle deep in Lunar Tarsh.At Dwarf Ford, his army was ambushed by a horde of Broo out of Snakepipe Hollow and by spirits sent by the Red Emperor. The broo were driven off by Argrath’s magicians, but part of the Sartar Free Army were forced to remain in the Far Place.Meanwhile, the Red Emperor marched his army southeast into the Bush Range, intending to march directly into the heart of Sartar and end the rebellion in one fell swoop.After defeating the broo, Argrath marched over Dwarf Run to the Falling Ruins and on Waterday of Movement Week, they engaged the Lunar Army outside of the Ruins.
Lunar Order of Battle
The Lunar Army was divided into three sections:
Vanguard: The Native Furthest Corps, led by King Pharandos of Tarsh. They were on hex 2316. They consisted of the following units:
- Veterans’ Cavalry 4-4-4-0
- 2nd Furthest Cavalry 3-3-4-0
- 3rd Furthest Cavalry 3-3-4-0
- 1st Furthest Foot 3-3-3-0
- 2nd Furthest Foot 3-3-3-0
- Bagnot Foot 3-3-3-0
Main: This was led by Jar-eel and Aelwrin. They were on hex 2215. It consisted of the following units:
- Jasper Phalanx 5-4-3-0
- Red Dragoons 5-4-4-0
- Antelope Lancers 5-5-4-0
- Arrowstone Cavalry 4-3-5-0
- Moon Arrow Cavalry 4-3-5-0
- Jintori Foot 3-3-4-0
Rear: This was personally led by the Red Emperor. They were on hex 2115. It consisted of the following:
- Major Class 2-4-5-61
- Minor Class 1-4-3-52
- Minor Class 1-4-3-53
- Minor Class 1-4-3-5
- Bloodspillers 6-5-6-0
- Household Foot 5-5-3-0
- Hell Sisters 5-4-6-0
Sartar Order of Battle
The Sartar Army was divided into two sections:
Left: Jaldon Goldentooth led the Barbarian Horde. They were on hex 2415. Several units had been disrupted from the broo ambush, but the Tribal Magicians and Pol-Joni were intact and present at the battle.
- Flash Jak 5-3-5-4
- And-Jay 5-3-4-3
- Krise 5-3-4-3
- Pol-Joni 5-5-4-0
- Pol-Joni 5-5-4-0
- Pol-Joni 5-5-4-0
- Potor 4-3-5-0
Right: Argrath, Harrek, and Gunda led the Sartar Free Army and Magical Union. They were on hex 2315 (the Falling Ruin). This included the:
- Snake Pipe Dancers 5-5-5-5
- Egglord Warlocks 5-6-5-6
- Eaglebrown Warlocks 4-4-5-5
- Stormwalkers 7-5-20-12
- Twin Spears 6-5-5-0Bullocks 6-5-5-0
- Sword Brothers 6-5-5-0
- Colymar 3-3-4-0
- Two-Ridge Farm. 3-3-4-0
Argrath exploited the relative weakness of the Lunar magicians (it was Crescent Go, and the Lunar College of Magic had hardly begun rebuilding) and decided to throw everything he could at killing Jar-eel.
There was no physical magic, instead a huge boiling of spirits came from the Sartar side. The Barbarian Horde sent a mass of spirits against the Native Furthest Corps. With a MgF of 9, the spirit magicians route the Veterans Cavalry and 2nd Furthest Cavalry.The SMU sent a mass of spirits (disincorporated magicians, spirits, elementals, etc ) against the Lunar middle. With a MgF of 20, they destroy the Red Dragoons, the Arrowstone, and Moon Arrow cavalry.
Jaldon and the Barbarian Horde fall upon the Provincial Army. With a CF of 19, they route the 3rd Furthest Cavalry and the 1st Furthest Foot. The valiant defenders manage to slay Jaldon’s current incarnation, however.In the Lunar main, the Sartarites attack with a CF of 50! Jar-eel is killed and fails her heroic escape, and the Jasper Phalanx is destroyed. The remaining Antelope Lancers and Jintori are heroically led by Aelwrin and the Bullocks are destroyed.
The Lunars lost the Red Dragoons, Arrowstone, Moon Arrow, Jasper Phalanx, Veterans Cavalry, 2nd Furthest Cavalry, 3rd Furthest Cavalry, and the 1st Furthest Foot. Even worse, they lost Jar-eel the Razoress. This constituted the worst defeat the Lunar Army had taken in battle since the era of Sheng Seleris.The Sartarites lost minor casualties, losing only the Bullocks and Jaldon (who would need to be summoned anew). The Red Emperor fled along the road to Furthest. He left the Bagnot and 2nd Furthest Foot behind in Bagnot. Argrath followed up with an assault of Bagnot, but afterwards he was prevented from marching on Furthest by Harrek, who reminded him of his promise to attack Black Horse County. And so the Sartarite army marched unopposed to Dunstop. He garrisoned both cities but then headed into the Grazelands before beginning his famous campaign against Muse Roost.While in the Grazelands, Argrath met and courted the Feathered Horse Queen and sent his companions to perform tasks on her behalf. The White Bull was said to be smitten by the charms and the wiles of the Feathered Horse Queen.Meanwhile the Red Emperor did not tarry in Furthest, but fled to Mirin’s Cross and then on to Glamour. During the Sacred Time rites, he was murdered by the Great Sister, beginning the Lunar Civil War.
The Lunar Empire clearly underestimated Argrath. They figured they were dealing with a traditional uprising or the kingdom of Sartar circa 1602, with maybe a hero or three. Instead, they were completely outclassed in magical units. The Red Emperor got the bulk of the blame here by the egi, which resulted in his sacrifice.
For those who want to know, Battle of Heroes was the culmination of the Hearts and Minds scenario.
As an aside, the Battle of Heroes is hardly the last great battle of the Hero Wars. In truth it is really just the first. It no more ended the Hero Wars than the Battle of Austerlitz ended the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars or the Granicus ended the wars of Alexander.
Jar-Eel comes back, right? Yes she does. And plays a HUGE role.
For both the Sartarites and the Lunars, cavalry, not infantry, are the backbone of the army.
The Lunars don’t have a great track record in conventional siege warfare:Boldhome – fell as a result of a massive magical attack, which had the Crimson Bat, flying units, and the like.Whitewall – fell after a two year siege as a result of a massive magical attack.Nochet – siege lifted after a year.
One of the unsettling elements of the early Hero Wars in Prax was Jaldon Goldentooth leading the Pol-Joni into Dragon Pass and beyond.Things that people assumed always worked a particular proved to be not as true as they
if 5,000 Praxians led by Jaldon Goldentooth show up south of the Creek, led by the Prince of Sartar, you might decide to hide in your hills or forts. But you are unlikely going to suicide against them.
Your Sartarites are welcome to get reconquered by the Lunar Empire if they so wish.
But the Sartarites of Greg and I are far more opportunistic than that. Many might distrust Argrath, at least initially, but are perfectly willing to throw themselves onto his side as an alternative to Lunar Conquest.
And some of the tribes – like the Colymar – have kinship ties to Argrath.
The Sartarite Army
At the time of the Lunar Occupation, the Sartarite army was primarily foot. Since the return of Argrath, not yet Prince, to the hills of Sartar, the core of his army has been cavalry, not footmen.The reasons for this are several:
1. The existing warrior structure of Sartar had evolved to become rich, mounted or chariot-riding noblemen (called “thanes”) leading armed mobs of freemen;
2. Dragon Pass, and especially the traditional friendship between the House of Sartar and the Grazelanders, was rich in horses;
3. Argrath’s own life and training was among the animal-riding nomads of Prax (except for the three years he spent as a Wolf Pirate) and he made brilliant use of the cavalry at his disposal (however, Argrath’s generalship always made excellent use of the forces he had at hand, even second rate infantry);
4. The magical powers which Argrath summoned to his aid were closely bound with wild rampages and shock tactics.Whenever Argrath needed infantry for some specific campaign, he hired mercenaries from the Sun Dome Temples, the Holy Country, dragonewts, or his own tribesmen. Sieges were usually left to specialists which were organized and led by the famous engineer, Haraspac, rumored to be of dwarf blood.Argrath’s friendship with the dragonewts extended to wyrms and even dream dragons. Such draconic allies were increasingly common in his later campaigns.
Compared to what they become, the tribal militia are an armed mob.
I don’t see any comparison to the Lunar Heartlands militia being made here. The Lunar soldiers in the Dragon Pass are almost entirely “professional” soldiers.
The change of the warrior structure of Sartar took place during the rule of the Sartar Dynasty. The rich, mounted or chariot-riding warriors did not take a leading role in the Rebellion (likely because they lacked the resources).
the wealth of Sartar is ultimately based on caravan traffic between Peloria, the Holy Country, and Prax. During the Sartar Dynasty, that wealth went to the Prince, the Sartarite cites, and to the warrior elite supported by them. During the Lunar Occupation, that wealth went mostly to the Lunars who occupied Sartar.
Travel through Sartar along the roads is safer, bandits are suppressed, and caravans – even Etyries caravans – are under the Prince’s protection.
What is really important from this is that Sartarite society changes from the largely tribal (or even clan-based) foot militia presented in the King of Dragon Pass computer game to a cavalry core under the later Sartar Dynasty (Tarkalor, Terasarin, and Salinarg).There’s a brief intermission in this during the Lunar Occupation, because the local elites lose much of their resources to the Lunar Empire, but this comes roaring back with a vengeance when Argrath becomes Prince.Which is a good reminder – just because something looked and worked in a particular way a century or millennia ago, doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed in the meanwhile. Mortal societies are constantly changing – that’s in the nature of beings governed by Life and Death.
Lunar Cities 2
One thing that should be clearer from my notes on Furthest as well as the Guide to Glamour is how little most Lunar cities resemble the First Age settlements of GRoY. Most outside of the Tripoli’s and a few other enclaves like Jillaro were rebuilt in the Fifth Wanes. A good point of comparison would be the Hellenistic cities of Alexander and the Successors, most of which were built on older foundations.
The TLDR version – don’t overly rely on GRoY to get a feel for the modern Lunar Heartlands.
it is more than a thousand years ago. It would be like Little Englanders harkening back on the days of Alfred the Great.
It was written as part of a masque written to celebrate the days of Alfred the Great. And it is not like the song was looted out of Asser.I certainly can imagine that elements of GRoY get reused or interpreted in the late 3rd Age. But by scholarly “classicists” who like to show off their education by quoting Plentonius.
To understand the modern Lunar Empire you don’t need to refer to GRoY. You might get some interesting glosses based on them or some near little story ideas. But don’t try to throw every element or name from them into your description of the modern Lunar Empire.
Do you assume that current Lunar cities are built on tells composed of the ruins of previous cities?
Many certainly are. Sheng Seleris and his nomads demolished and depopulated Karasal, Oronin, and much of Doblian satrapies to create the “New Grasslands”. Same thing with Vethil and Oraya. Those cities were in large part refounded in the Fifth Wane – that’s the “Restore and Rebuild” area on page 171 of the GS. The ruins were stamped down and a new city built atop them.Areas under direct control of Glamour, Jillaro, Alkoth, and Dara Happa On Horse were left more intact, although even many of these cities were the focus of rebuilding, if only to remind everyone of the Red Emperor’s victory.
The “New Grasslands” were just that. The depopulation of that area was similar to the destruction of Khorasan under the Mongol conquerers.
I think it is more like the incorporation of older elements in the monumental architecture of the Successors. Ptolemaic pharaohs, Seleucus having elements of the Esagila transferred from Babylon to Seleukia on the Tigris.
So Lunar rulers take older reliefs and use them or make new versions of them. Of course, they are free to change the iconography. Like how Arsinoe II or Cleopatra VII got depicted as Egyptian goddesses.
GRoY is the acronym used for Glorious ReAscent of Yelm, which was a deep background sourcebook by Greg on Dara Happa. It was set in the early First Age, so a good 1400 years before the present.
Queen’s Post (small city): This town in the Golden Horse Valley was founded by Sartarite merchants seeking to trade with the Grazelanders. The town now serves as a market and a crafting center, as well as tax post and treasury for the Feathered Horse Queen. The town is an important source of revenues for the Feathered Horse Queen and is under her personal protection. Queen’s Post is populated largely by foreigners and vendref, and a local council manages the town’s affairs. It is noted for its large Ernalda temple and for Geo’s Horsin’ Around Inn, a caravanserai for merchants and travelers from Sartar. Guides for caravans can be hired here.
So as you all know, there is a dish similar to tacos carnitas in Furthest, as well as popular dried fish on a stick, but did you know that in Boldhome you can get something very similar to a Navajo Taco?
That being said, I hear the best Sartarite fry bread can be found in Swenstown. They pile it up with grilled bison, and cook it in bison fat. No tomatoes, I fear, but they put chopped onions and peppers on it.
one of the things I try to do is imagine the smell of these cities. The pine smell in Furthest from those summer winds. That cold crisp mountain wind in Boldhome. The smell of fry bread or tortillas being made. Those little grills cooking pork or beef.
Again Boldhome is unusual, in that it is a mountain valley with loads of space, making it much easier. But most cities stink in many areas. Hence the popularity of incense, perfume, and other things to change the smell.
Boldhome is unusual in that thanks to the dwarfs and the presence of snow-melt, it has effectively unlimited fresh and clean water.
Well in this case we are not being a researcher or a scholar trying to analyse, interpret the real world and its history. This is about the fact that I love taco carnitas (as did Greg) and that I also love Navajo Tacos, and we’ve put something like those foods in Dragon Pass.
Lunar Cities 1
I salute the so-far unknown Hippodamus who aided Hon-eel in developing the standardised grid plan for Lunar cities founded or rebuilt in the Fifth Wane. Each city was laid out on a grid of right angles which defines the allocation of public and private space. The center of the city is the location of the city’s most important civic public spaces, including the market, city administration, and temples. Residences surround the city’s public areas.Such cities as Doblian City, Edasus, Haar Zaal, Hariij, Karantes, Kendesos, Palbar, Yelm’s New Foot, and many others follow this plan. But the most famous and most beautiful is of course Furthest, the gem of Lunar civilization in the Provinces. Although similar in some ways conceptually to the Jrustela Plan (used by Sartar for his cities), the Fifth Wane approach was far more standardised and the grid blocks are a key part of the city administration and identity.
This still-anonymous sage of Irrippi Ontor was among the greatest figures of his cult. Admittedly, in many cases, these new cities lack the flair of older cities – the claims of Haar Zaal to be a Glamour on the steppe are more embarrassing than laughable. But Furthest – Furthest! – is a wonder. Built amidst the high mountains of Dragon Pass, it is a gem of Heartland civilization and culture. Its beautiful temple to the Seven Mothers, the Moirasseum (were sacrifices to Hon-eel take place), and the royal palace are wonders that rival anything outside of Glamour. No wonder Jar-eel resided there for a time, and the Red Emperor has resided in Furthest twice in two generations.
Furthest! One can never forget on hot summer days, how the winds blow down from the pines of the Orvensdang Hills and bring that sweet incense to the city. The maize bread with fried pork! The fish on a stick, with a side of maize beer. The marble statues of the conquerers of Dragon Pass, Prax, and the Holy Country! The Palace and its gardens, with trees and flowers from the Aldryami! The cheers of the crowds and the scent of blood at the Moirasseum! The priestesses from the Temple of the Reaching Moon, sacred people of the Red Goddess. The philosophers and artists who have given up Glamour to reside here and provide it with Heartland culture and learning. And the largess of King Pharandos, who has built, decorated, and endowed this city!
Although the lands beyond Furthest are ruled by warlords and feuding tribes, Furthest itself is populated by scholars and artists, and is one of the glories of New Pelorian culture. It was naturally in Furthest, not dire Palbar or Alkoth-of-the-Enclosures, that Ariastus wrote his treatises on Friendship, Erotica, and Riddles. And it is Furthest, not Mirin’s Cross, with its bureaucrats and scribes, that is known for the splendid design of its Seven Mothers Temple.
each king has their idea how to improve the city, and Moirades sometimes changed his mind.
I think blocks in the 5th Wane cities are generally named after gods and founders. In older cities, streets are named after trades, obscure figures, current fads, whatever. I suspect they change often, especially in places like Glamour.
But the city blocks are likely important for administration. Every block contributes a specific number of militia (or pays for a replacement), has civic duties, etc. A citizen of Furthest might say something like “I am Arimtasus, citizen of Furthest of the Daybreak Block. Hail the Red Emperor and King Pharandros!”
When starting up opponents in RQ, most of the stats generally don’t matter that much except the following:
- Hit Points
- What Armor they have
- Weapon Skills, SR Weapon Damage + Damage Bonus
- Useful Spells – what they already have cast and how many magic points or Rune Points you want them to have to cast anything else.
- Useful Notes!
So example -Borgo the Dark Troll
- Hit Points 16
- Wears 3 point armor plus 1 point skin
- Uses a Mace at 65% at SR 5
- Does 1D8+1+1D6 damage
- Has Bludgeon 3, Extinguish, Protection 2, and Heal 2.
- Bludgeon will raise Mace to 80% and 1d8+4+1d6, and Protection will raise armor to 6 points.
- Hasn’t cast them yet.
- Only useful Rune Spell is Heal Wound.
- Has 2 Rune Points.
- Borgo will try to cast Extinguish immediately on any source of light and then cast his spells before attacking in the Darkness.
Bam! That took about 30 seconds to jot down.
What I find really useful is to just have a few stock NPC templates around (like those in the GM Adventure Book) that I can use.
Note I don’t work out his STR, CON, SIZ, whatever. If for some weird reason they are pertinent, I can pick a number for them out afterwards.
when it is a handful of trollkin ambushing the players in the Rubble, I don’t need much at all. If they run away, I don’t need any more information. I really only need more if they surrender AND then interact with the players in a substantive manner.Ordinary combat, dangerous and lethal, is actually one of the least interesting ways of interacting with NPCs (and I emphasise “ordinary combat” – duels, ceremonial combats, contests of heroes, etc – those are different and usually do require significantly more information).
The point is that most of the time you really can create NPCs on the fly and still get the full experience.
Passions should only appear in play when they create something interesting for the players. Never ever ever resort to rolling dice between NPCs to see what happens. Just decide something and do it.
I don’t find combat needs to be speeded up. If you are doing lots of skirmishes with large numbers of NPCs, the questions are 1. why? and 2. why hasn’t some more powerful NPC taken notice of them? Argrath takes an interest in these trollkin destruction teams and tells them to bring a message to Cragspider. Momma Grod, the KL shaman-priestess of the clan, makes a deal with Mr. Mook, the feared ZZ Death Lord, and his zombie army. And so on.If the players are regularly wiping the mat with lots of opponents, then it is time to let them play with bigger pieces.
So let’s say The players interact a lot with Borgo. I add some Runes, some Passion, some skills, and pretty soon he is a living breathing 3D character. He started as a nook but thanks to player interaction he’s fully fleshed out. That’s the magic of BRP.
If you need an NPC for other purpose, handle it similarly. Decide whatever characteristic is important for the interaction (“Thorval the Thorough has an INT of 18”), give the NPC a few pertinent skills (“Thorvald has Library Use 50%, RW obscure language at 60%, and Bargain at 50%) and decide any pertinent magic (Thorvald has Reconstruction). You can work build it out from there.
As a gamemaster, I avoid making ANY rolls for NPCs against the environment.If I want to know whether Eitris the Lhankor Mhy scholar NPC to succeed at finding a necessary scroll within the Knowledge Temple, I don’t even bother to determine his Library Use skill, much less roll for it. He either finds it or he doesn’t, based on how I want the story to proceed.If an adventurer can’t find it, then he finds it for them.If the plot needs that scroll to move forward, he finds it.If the scroll will complicate or obfuscate the plot in some way, then he can’t find it.If for some reason he is working against an adventurer to find the scroll first, then I make up a skill rating on the spot based on what seems appropriate and I roll.Jason Durall
Oh I imagined with Library Use, this is the case where I suspect the players might try to hire a scholar to find a specific book. Then I very well might let them roll to see if it succeeds.
Sneak peek by Agathe Pitié
Another sneak peek of a WIP. This time from the amazing Agathe Pitié.
Sartar Map update
BTW, this is only about 20% of the map we are putting together right now.
Not every village is going to get named. The intent is to give folk freedom to have their own villages, and also to not tie author’s names. The named villages have enough existence to warrant it, and enough details to support a text description.
This map really helps to explain and visualise Sartar. Well the whole map together does, this is just South Sartar and Volsaxiland. But it also has tribal boundary overlays. And it contains ALL the information on Greg’s master map, plus much more.
And these inns are extremely important – they support the caravan trade which is the lifeblood of the kingdom.
The Broadview Inn caters to foreigners, travellers, and even has an Issaries shrine. Not to mention entertainment and better booze.And also has an amazing view of south Sartar. I mean look at its position. It is like an Alpine hikers hut.
The inns of Sartar, as an aside, are caravanserai. Like the Selim Pass Caravanserai in Armenia
But for my money, the best inn in Sartar is Geo’s Ridge Inn.
How does the Sartar road going through the Quivin Mountains manage to be so straight? It is cut right into the mountains. The roads of Sartar are better engineered than Roman Roads, and have always been described as such.This is part of the reason that the description of Sartar presented in the Hero Wars material was so problematic.
HW/HQ described them like that, but Thunder Rebels then completely ignored the roads, their importance, and the importance of trade and commerce. And cities. And barely acknowledged the tribes. Now a big part of that was the looming influence of KoDP, but KoDP was set three hundred years before. KoDP cast a huge shadow over what everyone was doing at the time. It couldn’t help but do so. Heck, it was the source of most of the better artwork during the period.
One of my favorite little features on that map is the little village right up against the Crossline near the Zatern Lake. Now I don’t know if that village has been around since the beginning of the Third Age (I actually kind of doubt it) but if it has, imagine how weird that would have been. You can go to the edge of the fields, but not beyond. Or you will DIE. Kind of like living in Berlin in the 1970s….
Jerry Cornelius in Glamour
Some might view Glamour as being inhabited by investigators like Griselda. Me, I think the proper vibe for a Glamour investigator is J. Cornelius. With adventures like “J. Cornelius and the Madness of Halfway.”You know, that’s where J. Cornelius and his lover Una P. (some say she is the manifestation of Glamour) were investigating the eugenics schemes of the Eel-aroash, an investigation that leads all the way the Fourth Inspiration of Moonson herself. All the while smoking hazia in order to travel through the soul currents atop the Crater.
And have I told you all about Ziggy Argrath in Pavis?
Now my favorite part of “J. Cornelius and the Madness of Halfway” is the scene where after drifting along the soul currents, JC and Una find themselves in the pleasant palace of Jar-Eel the Razoress, where the demigoddess engages JC and Una in intercourse both philosophical and erotic, with stakes of life and sanity. But in the end, Una betrays JC of course, and our harlequin finds himself falling down deep until he confronts the other six of himself.
Pelorian Earth Cults
One thing that writing the Cults Book has really hammered into me is how much fear the traditional rulers of Peloria (aka the Yelm cult) have for Lodril as Monster Man. But even more so, how much terror and loathing they have for Gorgorma, who is everything the Yelm cult fears about women, sex, and the Other. But then here is where it gets interesting – the Lunars say that Gorgorma is a manifestation of Gerra and Natha, and the Red Goddess befriended Gorgorma in the Underworld.As a result, the head of the Yelm cult holds Gorgorma on a leash. Officially tolerated but usually discouraged, the Red Emperor can always unleash her if the local rulers disappoint him.
And here’s the REALLY interesting thing – you can’t have Dendara without Gorgorma. Dendara insists on that and even the Yelmites accept that. She is acknowledged as a fear that cannot be expelled, a shadow that no light can dispel.
Now the Earth cults approach this different. Ernalda includes Dendara but also a lot more, with many husbands and many lovers – including Yelm and Orlanth, but also pretty much anyone who paired with the Earth. Uxorial loyalty is not her thing – fertility and Earth are. Her twin sister is the destructive Earth – so what we know is dangerous and malevolent about the Earth itself – earthquakes, curses, and that jazz.But the vengeful side of things is contained in her daughter, Babeester Gor, who is acknowledged, accepted, and supported. BG is feared, but also viewed as useful by the local rulers, most of whom are tied directly or indirectly to the Ernalda cult.In short, the Ernalda v. Dendara/Gorgorma cults hold a tremendous amount of cultural information. And honestly is a more interesting discussion to me than the perennial “are Elmal and Yelmalio different gods?” The God Learners were convinced that Ernalda and Dendara are the same BUT they failed to prove it and both goddesses refused to confirm them. However, the Pure Horse People of Pent worship Dendara, but the Grazelanders worship Ernalda. Which is interesting indeed…..
Also interesting to me is where Ourania and Yelorna fit in this, in that they are among the very very few celestial goddesses. Ourania is celibate and pure, but Yelorna may marry (although only to Earth and Sky cultists).
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